Feature: The Business Plan- Turning Reality Into Dreams


The Business Plan:

Turning Realities Into Dreams


BEFORE I delve into the meat of my business; get down to the nub of my discourse…

Thom Yorke

this week has really taken its toll on me. I will get to more music-related avenues very soon; I want to lead with one issue: the death of Robin Williams. Everyone has paid tributes to the peerless comedian- a man with no equals- and how saddened they are by his death. Most will be able to detail and assess their feelings with more eloquence and clarity; for me, Williams’s suicide marked something of a shock- an earthquake whose tremors stirred deep-seated feelings out of my brain. Having battled through- more like put up with- clinical depression for the last 15 years-or-so, there are times when it worsens- the fluctuating nature means no two days are the same. Having attempted suicide several times- the actual number is alarming- I identity with and are burdened by suicidality- as we speak in fact. Few would think to look at me. I barely smile or laugh naturally (or without ‘provocation’) when about others- but have to project an air and personality that is at least quasi-buoyant and cheery. In the pub industry- as well as office work- you need to connect with people; make them feel confident and looked after- they are not there to guess your state of mind; make you feel better. When that heartbreaking news filtered through the airwaves, it kicked me in the face- everything became crystallized and trained. Those not aware of the complexities of depression may say- William’s suicide- is the act of a selfish man- he has money and fame; why would he want out? Apart from it being the most insulting thing you can say; suicide is not selfish- it is the hardest decision anyone will make; it is the bravest thing anyone can do. Eager to escape the terrible suffocation of his predicament, he stopped the walls from closing in- the U.S. legend decided to put the lights out; let the genie out of the bottle. The final moments must have been a turbulent torment of what-ifs, loved one considerations and salty tears- thinking about it is excruciating. I will not dwell too much on Williams’s death; only to say this: the same sort of depression rules the music scene. Most people have no idea what a near-death experience is. It is not a situation where you almost die; it is when you are unconscious- from an operation or accident- and see a white light and heavenly glow- hence the ‘near-death‘ part of it. It is just something that annoys me most (aside from all white van drivers, children, and people who add an ‘s’ to the end of Marks and Spencer, Tesco and WHSmith). My issues aside, a lot of musicians struggle with horrible depression- it is something that not only can define their songs; it can take their existence. I will be running a half-marathon on behalf of Mind– in a few weeks- to raise money and awareness for a cruel and insatiable illness- something a lot of your favorite musicians sleep with each night. A fundamental and ever-present danger, it would be a false equivalency to say ‘whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’- as you read, some of the most adored musical minds are withholding their darkest and more disturbed thoughts. What I want to do- and will explain more below- is highlight how wide a problem it is; how things can change- with some planning, cooperation and mutuality; steps can be brokered to lessening the prevalence (of depression). From the likes of Kurt Cobain; through Jeff Buckley and Thom Yorke; down to Morrissey, some of the most fascinating and talented songwriters have lived with- and died from- the grip of depression.

In ‘real life’, depression can disrupt and grope normality and routine- put everything on the back foot and cause huge problems. In music, it can have some positive sides. When feeling that low and alone, many musicians regress to the songbook- channel their pain and feelings through the medium of song- transform pain and depression into something redemptive and inspiring. Art does not always guarantee freedom and a therapeutic support; if Robin Williams’s death has shown anything it is this: even if you have an extraordinary gift; it does not stop the eternal footman snicker when he takes your coat (to paraphrase T.S. Elliot). This pissed me off royally- why should people so wonderful and inspiring have to suffer so harshly?  In my own life- not suggesting for a second I am ‘so wonderful’- there are a number of different burdens.  With the considerate cocktail being added to by generalised anxiety disorder, chronic insomnia and various neurological issues- things are less than fun.  Throw in severe money worries, singledom and growing stresses- and you have a less than desirable situation.  I have my own coping mechanisms- most not doctor-recommended- but I know full well how difficult things are. Having accepted this lot, ambition and desires are the best things I can hold onto- planning the future and trying to siphon my restlessness into music and writing.  Unfortunately, the desire to review has practically evaporated- it is exhausting and it seems like I am going through the motions a tad.  I will continue to do it and support musicians for a few more weeks- when I will only publish one review a week- but writing things like this make me tick- putting dreams into motion and looking at wider horizons and bigger things.


Music can help and soothe a lot of anxious and darkened minds- it does not ensure safety and life. It was then I decided Psychoacoustics had to happen- I will go into more depth very soon.  It is not designed to pad my bottom line; grow my wallet- I loathe and detest the faceless billionaires like Zuckerberg and their ilk- if I could find a way of weening myself off of Facebook, I would.  Social media sites are becoming means of profit-making; monitoring people’s activities and personal information- there is no cooperative or reapportionment.  For all the benevolent and caring people out there, the tycoons and wealthy are not pulling their weight.  Aside from (Psychoacoustics) making it easier for musicians to record; others to meet; expanding possibilities and caring for musicians in need- there is a social element, too.  The likes of Facebook and Twitter and seriously limited.  Every time a so-called ‘improvement’ is made, it equates to a lick of paint- a font is changed; a small tweak made.  No ACTUAL improvements are made; things that will make the service better and more economical- the sites are riddled with limitations and pointless aspects.  Chocked full of adverts, banalities and boredom, people are sucked in because they become addicted- we spend hours aimlessly staring and posting anything that comes to mind.  I am as guilty as anyone, but know full well the likes of Facebook will die down soon enough; people will want a lot more; Zuckerberg is not going to make useful amendments- just see himself grow wealthier and fatter.  The social element of Psychoacoustics is geared towards music and connections; negating the traditional status updates- it is designed to help musicians connect; people to find great sounds; make charitable endeavours easier- ensure people can link with relevant contacts a lot easier than ever.  One of the big problems- when it comes to music-sharing particularly- is the lines of communication.  Whether it is a song, album or review (being shared), often your ‘friends’ will pass it on (or one of them) and then that’s it- it sits like a turd not going anywhere; limited amount of people will see and hear it.  That seems insane: why is it so hard to have your work shared? Why do people not take the trouble to help others?  It is one of the downfalls of the ‘social media age’- that clandestine and lackadaisical lack of community (and stretching beyond compartmentalisation).  I will give more depth soon- with less of a socialist rant- and explain my ideas- for now, another qualm is on my mind…

My second small point- that leads to my second business idea- is the growing digitlaisation of music. It is an exothermic fire that is singeing the wooden foundations of record stores and physical musicianship- the basis and history of the music industry. When I walk into HMV– for anyone under 21 it is a shop that sells music- I am like a child in a sweet shop filled with naked women- I run straight to the vinyl section and frantically leaf through. I love everything about music hardware- the eye-catching and stunning album covers; the range of vinyls, CDs and DVDs- all the colours, photos and sights. Without hardware, music wouldn’t exist; with electronics and the Internet it is impersonal, intangible and spectral. You cannot take an iTunes download in hand; flick through the sleeve notes and marvel at the album cover- take a CD out and carry it around with you. Before I champion the necessity of music hardware- and get to the nub of my point- I will say one thing: music hardware needs solidifying and galvanising. The cassette was a dreadful and stupid idea: so flimsy and fragile, half of my cassettes were eaten up in my stereo within the first minute. The frustration of rewinding a tape- to get to a particular or song- is insanely backwards; the fact that cassettes are less developed and intelligent than vinyl tells you why they became extinct. Vinyl is solid and historic; impractical to an extent, as few have turntables in their homes. You cannot deny the beauty and lure of a vinyl- the designs take your mind; the size is impressive; the feel of the record causes shivers- the CD seemed like the natural step forward. Hmmm… true to an extinct, but there are huge flaws and issues- the CD is only half-good. It is a great size and shape; it is mobile and well-known- its limitations are glaring. In addition to it being a bit slight on the capacity side- you can record on both sides of a DVD; why not a CD?- some musicians are needlessly putting out double albums. I am not sure why a CD can not hold more data; it has been out for decades yet has not improved or changed- we can cure cancer but not this?! Digital avenues are limitless and unconfined- you are not restricted to how much you can put out; cost is not such a huge issue. The biggest and more irritating problem with CDs is their frailty- it is like handling a newborn baby. If you drop them on a carpeted area- a CD not a baby!- they have the potential to scratch and break; vinyls and cassettes are not this pathetic. The number of times I have accidentally dropped a CD down; picked it up- only to discover a long scratch running it. If the tried-and-tested repair system does not work- wiping it on your jumper; giving it a quick polish- then you are screwed. Nothing in life is more disappointing than hearing a song- or multiple tracks- skip and jump; it is like nails on a chalkboard- just thinking about it makes me want to kick a kitten through an electric fan…

All the boffins that have moulded the inner workings (of the digital revolution) have paid no attention to the latchkey kid- imparting wisdom and ensuring it survives. How hard can it be to reinforce a CD (so it is near-impossible to scratch)? The fact that technology and music hardware has reversed since the early-20th century tells you all you need to know- if people can’t be bothered to improve it, no wonder so many are turning to digital- and more dependable- areas. The bad thing about this is that a domino effect is created. Suppressing the desire to go to the local HMV means they close down; the record shops start to shut and disappear- it puts good people out of business. In addition to seeing the erosion of music hardware, artists are suffering too. So much music can be downloaded and purchased for free- fair equity and financial apportionment are not taking place. I love that I can go to YouTube and iTunes; find any music in the world- play it with the click of a button. I would hate to see the day where the last of the vinyls and CDs disappear- it could be the theme of a quirky Indie film; a Nick Hornby-esque novel; the tableau of a Michel Gondry music video. The trouble is, it’s going to happen- we will live to witness a day where record stores and physical products are subsumed and overthrown by electronic monsters- we are slowly being sucked into the machine; becoming disconnected from personal relations. In tandem with social media, online music-sharing takes away a key human element- the face-to-face interactions and bonds. When visiting HMV recently, I purchased a few albums; got chatting to the guy behind the counter- we shot the breeze about music and the best out there. When I play a song on SoundCloud, there is no human there to talk to; I cannot share my feedback directly (verbally) to them- I am afraid that we will forget the necessity of reality and tradition. I may sound like an old man- albeit a 31-year-old one- but I adore music as much as anyone; want to preserve and protect out heritages and monuments- make sure we do not bulldozer over them. In addition to digital music being accessible, easy and cheap; it also makes it easy to connect with a wider online community- we can share music so readily; filter it across the world with ease; find new fans and favourites. My job as a blogger and reviewer is only possible because of digital music and social media- I have met so many great people this way; I would not change that for all the world. I feel we can retain both; strike an equilibrium that sees the continuation of hardware and digital; keep the status quo frozen and capped- do not allow iniquity and entropy. This thought process and idea got me thinking about a second business venture- a record label that would not only represent a wide range of artists; it would funnel products back into music stores- and more besides. I shall go into more depth when necessary; hopefully you will stay with me…

The first strand of my two-prong pitch was for an all-encompassing and multi-leveled business: Psychoacoustics. It is the name behind a business that consists of multiple facets.


Idea of the site:

There are quite a few music websites at the moment, between the iPhone, Facebook and the Internet. Most of them offer roughly the same things- music sharing, free downloads and Internet radio access. There are a lot offering the same things, and quite a lot of things are not being considered. The idea of Psychoacoustics, is to pull all the existing qualities of these sites together, as well as offering new features and great networking opportunities- for free. The plan is to top Spotify, iTunes and the biggest sites- by offering what they do, plus much more besides. Specific areas and pages on the site will be named after musical figures, albums and events. For instance, a lyrics section will feature Bob Dylan’s name and be themed around here. It is sort of like a music Disneyworld- different zones and characters. This makes it more interactive and interesting (than most music sites) and is engaging.


By accessing http://www.psychoacoustics.info (website currently under planning/construction), you will be able to access the site. From there, there will be a home page. On the home page is a main design. It is an animation of a studio, called Psychoacoustics. It is designed like Abbey Road, and there is constant movement on the page. There will be a bank of about 200 different musicians, who will walk into the page and interact with each other; leave and enter the studio- keep the user amused. The icons and animation will be colourful and interesting- better designed than most of the music websites out there.



There is a chat/Skype option where you can interact with any of your contacts or friends. This can be done via a Facebook-style message service, or Skype. When you add contacts- like Facebook or Twitter– you can chat with any of them at any given time.


Your personal inbox; you can mail your contacts, as well as any musician or venue.

Search Engine:

This is a bespoke, specialist search engine. It is similar to Google but responds to questions and searches effectively- returning only relevant websites. It can record audio, so if you were searching for a song title or name of song- it would be able to locate it. The search engine is able to answer specific music questions and ties together information and resources from Yahoo, Google and Bing.


This is a diary of important music events and updates- specific to the user.  Excoriating the labyrinth of music sites/diaries, it is a bespoke service that gives you up-to-date alerts- based on your favourite musicians.

Music Player:

You will be able to create a playlist or jukebox of up to 2,000 songs.

Personal Profile:

You can create your own avatar, and enter all of your information. It is similar to Facebook, but more detailed- you can upload photos, videos, and designs. I will go into more detail later, but on your personal profile, is all of your information, favourites, and links. The profile works like Twitter and Facebook but more in-depth- with fewer faults. I have described the social side of things in a previous mail.

1. Studio and Rehearsals:

This is an animated studio and rehearsal rooms (about 3 studios with control rooms and one rehearsal space). Unlike sites where there are a list of features, you access the features via icons: so for instance, you would click on a T.V. or a guitar to access the relevant feature. The tab on the interface is red, and will consist of different shades of red. The specific names and designs for each feature are to be decided, but are as follows:

Music video:

Here you can pitch ideas for music videos to bands, acts and labels. You can protect your idea and sell it for money (or use it to gain points and exchange for a reward in the future). There is also a music video store, where you can access any video from any song- search by genre, artist or time period. Also, there is a software where you can put ideas into and create videos through animation, film (or various other techniques) and apply them to your own songs.

Album cover:

Here you can view any album cover, and search for it like the music videos. The features allow you to design covers using animation, photography or a photography edit- where you can mix and edit images and merge together to create incredible designs. From here you can publish them or share- or pitch ideas to bands looking for ideas.


This is like Instagram where you can upload photos or designs and edit them- using hundreds of options. Here too you can search for photographers and view images, websites and famous images (from music history).

Music video player:

This utilises YouTube, where you can view music videos for free and have a favourites list- or share the video to social media.

Song dissect/mix:

On this page, you can take any song- from rock to classical- and dissect it. You can see what notes are played, and what instruments are used. This helps when writing songs and can help you learn (easily) about music. Also, you can take sections of various songs and mix them together; edit the sounds to create new songs.


Here there are guides, links and ways to set up your own record label, festival, or music magazine. You can interact with others online, and get funding in order to set up your own business- then network on site to attract users and business. You can invent new music ideas and instruments; design them on this page and pitch them.


There is a software where you can design and broadcast your own podcast and radio station. Broadcast over the site or YouTube, play your own songs and broadcasts- get fans and followers as well.


On here you can sell songs to T.V. and film companies and productions.

Band sites:

I will explain more on the registration, but when bands and artists sign up they can create their own website and include a wealth of information- making it easy to promote and get fans.


This is a sound library with thousands of sounds, effects and mixing options.


If you are a D.J., here you can mix tracks, scratch and broadcast your own set- via the site- and promote your gigs.

Home Studio:

This is a software where you can record vocals, instruments and effects- and then send your songs to fans or broadcast the tracks online. There is software for tuning instruments too.

Recording and Production:

This allows you to record songs professionally and easily; provides every technology a modern studio would. You can record vocals and instruments, mix and layer them- create a professional sounding track. From there you produce the tracks and broadcast them; burn them onto C.D. It allows for album covers to be printed and gives links to sites (where you can buy C.D. cases and additional software).

Rehearsal and Live Room:

These are simulations of studio spaces, where you can play live or rehearse. Via Skype you can jam with the rest of your band (or solo) and be seen by contacts- have your performance saved and shared. There are options for recording. There are guitar, drum, piano, vocal and orchestra options where you can simulate any guitar or piano etc., and get the most realistic sound possible. Unlike software (where it is flattering), here you have to know how to play. Like Wii it reacts to touch; you can simulate yourself playing- as if it were real. From there, you can either mess around or record the sounds; join with others or your band members (and jam together). You can tune the instruments; it is as good as the actual instruments. The same can be done with vocals where you can record as many tracks as you like- and access different mics, and effects. It is able to work with recording so you can record full songs and albums using this. it is not to replace real life but act as an easy way to share and record demos (for when you are in the studio).

2. Bar and Venue:

The venue is downstairs of the studio- the bar upstairs. It is animated like the rest of the site and acts as a portal for socialising and broadcasting. The tab for this is green and appears with different shades of green on the interface.

Radio player:

You can access tens of thousands of digital stations from around the world and stream them live- as well as access archive broadcasts and songs.


There are links to all music magazines and publications, in addition to music websites.


It will act like PledgeMusic where you can donate to get album made and respond to pitches. Artists can offer rewards or treats, and get a % of funds raised. You can network and swap/record vocals- the user is able to write as well.


Due to revenue coming from advertisers and labels, the site can pay royalties to artists whose songs are downloaded-means that songs can be downloaded free, but artists get paid.

Food and Drink: 

Links to music venues- as well as music bars and cafes- anywhere in the world. You can get alerts of anything local to you; any events that are happening- then you can share them on the site.

Leagues and Competitions:

There are various leagues for new bands and directors etc. that are updated (and points are given to the winners). These charts reflect download amounts, most hits and popularity- there are leagues and competitions for new and unsigned bands.

Music Fantasy League:

This is like football fantasy, but you choose a 5-piece band. You have to choose at least one drummer, one singer- you can choose from any musician from history. There is an option to select 2 songwriters as well and an album and song. There are various points awarded to each- depending on how many times they have been downloaded and mentioned- and an overall league (that updates each week).

Read and Write:

You can publish blogs and reviews of bands and gigs (and albums); publish  and share them- in addition to being able to publish gig and album reviews.


There is a dating website and connection site for musicians, as well as  a chance to connect and promote music charities. There are event postings and updates (for your local area) that expands internationally. You can tie all of your contacts and friends in from other social sites (into this one).


Once you have created a profile you can search for potential band members or venues. When bands or acts register- like a dating website- you answer various questions- such as favourite music, bands and albums. If you are looking for someone, you can either type in a search- and the site matches people for you- or you can click on a map. From here you can click on any country or city (and search for any member located in that area and contact them). There are sections where you can connect bands and venues; labels to acts; band members and bands together. If you make a successful match, you gain points that can be exchanged.


This links actors to bands- looking for people for music videos. The user can join actors together, who can share links and tips (with regards to music and best contacts and agents).


I have explained all of the social side, but the site works more like Twitter where you can ‘add’ any band or musical act- and follow their progress and updates. There is a LinkedIn style site too where you can connect with employers or contacts- build up a network of fans and followers which gives you greater opportunities.


You can broadcast live shows and gigs; stream concerts here and share them.

3. Living Room:

This tab will appear in shades of yellow. The living room will consist of a sofa, chairs, jukebox- a notice board as well.

Music download:

Like Spotify, you can download any track for free and either play them- or create your own playlists and sections. You can compile songs into albums (and burn a C.D.), or share songs via your phone or social websites. There are links to Spotify and iTunes; music apps too.

Promotion and Distribute:

You can listen to recommended music- depending on your mood- or find any new music (depending on your tastes). You can then share them via social media, or you can promote new bands and artist-, and share acts with promoters and venues, as well as labels. It works like ReverbNation but more in-depth and gives tools to find new music- ways to share and get your own voice heard easily.


You can have a playlist of up to 2,000 songs, and play them- whenever you like.

Reference Library:

You can view information about every band, artist or album released. It is like Wikepidia where you can find out anything about music- it gives info about bands, videos, links and merchandise.  In turn, this allows you access to new music, old music (you may have forgotten about), and access any information whenever you want.

Music Trends/Stats:

There are tables and graphs that show music trends, sales figures and stats (relevant to you)- these are updated daily.


These are all of the charts from home and abroad- updated weekly, with links to all of the songs featured.

Search engine and lyric finder:

The search engine is also available here but is a lyric finder- where you can type words or lyrics and it finds the song. The user can input audio or video- if you are unsure of the song or artists- and it will find out for you.

Pitch Zone:

If you have spare lyrics or ideas, you can pitch them (and trade them with artists). You can earn points for anything that is bought from you, and pitch (and find ideas for) songs. Also, you can pitch music: if you have no lyrics you can match them and collaborate with people on site- then join your music and lyrics together. From there you can create songs together (and share them).

Music Notation and languages:

There is a software where you can learn music (and translate your music into musical notes), so it makes it easier to write music. There is a link to a language site where you can learn any one of 30 different languages (for free). This makes it easier to communicate with international contacts and write and sing (in a different language).

4. Bedroom and Kitchen:

This tab appears as different shades of purple. The bedroom has a bed, wardrobe and table; T.V. etc.- the kitchen is a smaller room connected adjacently.


You can access all of your updates, information and messages here- and directly from your personal profile.

T.V. zone:

This allows access to dozens of music T.V. channels, archived videos and shows- in addition to relevant T.V. shows and performances.


There are links to music teachers, studios, websites, bars and venues- everything anyone could want.

Creative Zone:

You can chat with anyone; share ideas, stories, gig reviews- ideas for photography and videos etc.

5. “Red Cassette”

This is a specially designed shopping site. The animation is designed like a large Rough Trade store- the tab will be a specially designed one.


Search by genre, period or artists and you can find music from them to buy. It pulls together Amazon, iTunes and all music websites, so you can compare prices for the album- it gives you the most choice imaginable.

DVDs and Merchandise:

You can search for DVDs and merchandise from any band. This gives you links to shopping sites and band sites- so again you can find the best deal.


You can purchase band and festival tickets; music books, apps and instruments. You can purchase gift cards too.


There are links to shopping websites and info for independent stores; with website and address details.

6. Join/Log-In:

This tab is in shades of black and grey.


Different registrations. For casual user, browsing, solo, band, promoter, venue, label and other. They ask for different details and different lengths- but all very simple and easy.


It allows a simple log in and a feature where you can log in to all of your music and social accounts (at the same time).

7. About Us:

This tab is going to be detailed in shades of orange.

Studio history:

There is information- fake of course- of how it was set up in East London (in 1969), and the story behind it. There is a ‘mock’ Vevo-style video documenting the history of the studio and its founders. It is comical and is also like a guided tour.

About the site:

This is a serious description of what the site aims to do and how it will evolve.

Press and links:

This displays any links to relevant sites and partners, plus software sites- so you can create your own music website.

8. Music Player:

This tab will be in shades of blue. This ties together all of available and your downloaded music- so you can play it on-going (and create smaller playlists).

9. Advertise With Us:

This tab is in shades of pink.


This is a separate page where all adverts from sites and venues can be displayed. This means it doesn’t interfere with your profile or browsing- but can access it any time from this site. Advertisers and sites pay to be published on the site. There are contact numbers and an online form if you want to advertise or subscribe.

10. Contacts/Links:

This tab is in shades of whites and grey.


This details all e-mail and phone contacts (for every department).


Up to 6 different contact email and phone numbers- depending on the query


This is the address of the H.Q. (and map).

Social media:

This gives links to the Twitter and Facebook sites- YouTube too

Feedback form:

Provide feedback on the site.

Suggestions box:

If you have any ideas for futures or designs, then let us know and will take into account.

FAQ and Troubleshoot:

If you have trouble with any part of the site there is support. Also, there is a FAQ segment- if you have a question it will be answered.  The user can report abuse or any issues (day or night).

Designs and Features:

Points system/Profile:

As well as a detailed profile, on top of everything there is a points system. For every event you promote (or song you share), a certain amount of points are awarded. When certain amount of points are accrued, you get a reward. These will (mainly) be cash prizes which will increase in amount. For 100,000 points, a ‘Fantasy Package’ will be awarded- where you can meet any musician or have any experience you want (paid for by the website). The profile will be displayed like an album cover, where there is track listing- relating to each section (1-10)- and details of everything you have done. There are graphs displayed that represent your progress and updates.

Avatar and animation:

When you register you can create your own avatar- to give it the feel of a video game. You can personalise and update it as much as you like. As I said, each section is named after a musician or album- to include everything from The Doors, Bohemian Rhapsody and Abbey Road. There will be animated forms of musicians (interacting in each section) and great designs- to give the whole site a feel of a game or as I mention, a sort of musical Disneyworld.


The idea is to raise money to improve the site constantly; give royalties to all musicians (whose music is downloaded). I want to top iTunes and Spotify and have everything (included) any music lover or artist could ever hope. As a singer- who is curious about my vocal range- there are tools for that; recorders- and I will be able to locate a band easily.

Access and use:

It is available on P.C.; it can be downloaded to iPhone or your T.V. This means that anyone, anywhere can access and use it (any time). There will be a virtual keyboard to type; the user can have access to a touchscreen- so if using it on T.V. everything is a lot faster.



The logo will depict a gorgeous woman in a black dress. In her left hand is a blue rose; whilst in her right, is a microphone. There is a microphone stand in front of her, whilst we see a spotlight shine (to the side of her face).  Thrown in too are going to be drops of rain- overhead and on the other side of her face. She has brown hair and green eyes, with red lipstick. To the side of her is a gramophone, as a vinyl plays. She looks focused but relaxed; enjoying and entranced by the music playing. The main logo will be centred, whilst either side of the logo will be ‘Psycho’ and ‘Acoustics’- in red lettering. The letters will be in a stylised font but easy to read- with the letters bordered in white to give a modern and striking design.

Intended Destination:

Hoping to have the premises located at either Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden or Soho. Due to the size of the building, it will need to be located in these areas- locales that attract huge amounts of tourists and attention- providing the most possible custom.


Inspired by Café De Paris, the building will be very large and decadent. The premises will comprise two floors; with the intention of each being large enough to contain all the incorporated properties of the business (see below). Hoping to have it opened no later than 2020 (may be short-sighted in hindsight).

Opening Hours:


8am to 12am.


8am to 12am (when gigs are performed it will be extended to 1am).


9am to 9pm.


Around about 50 in total.


It will be over-18s only: no babies or children allowed. Dress code is not strict and open to the public.


I know of websites similar to Kickstarter that provide funding opportunities for businesses. I hope to pitch a business plan and raise as much of the funding from there. Aside from a business loan, I am hoping to raise as much of the remainder (of the funds myself). I am not sure of the exact cost (of the entire business), yet hope that over the coming few years the entire amount can be raised.

Ground Floor:

Bar and Kitchen:

As you enter, to the left of the premises is the bar. The bar will be very modern with a wide and long counter- in order to allow maximum custom. The bar logo will be emblazoned above the bar, and will be unique. As well as serving coffee (and tea, hot chocolate etc.) alcohol will be served. There will be a range of beers, wines and spirits- completed with an extensive cocktail menu. The menu will be extensive. There will be breakfast, lunch and dinner options- with a dessert menu. The range will include British, American, Mexican, French, Chinese, Thai, Italian, Australian and Spanish food- from savoury to sweet. The kitchen will be next to the bar, and will serve food from opening through to close. There will be themed dishes and cocktails that will incorporate band names, lyrics and album titles etc.


There will be a large amount of sitting to accommodate around about 100 people. The seats will consist of sofas, leather (sofas) and chairs; together with wooden chairs. It is designed to be a relaxing and comfortable environment; it will not be cluttered or compacted- space and openness is a huge key.

Jukeboxes and Speakers:

This is one of the main features of the business. The music will be the epicenter of the bar/café, and will be a constant. As you enter, there are jukeboxes to the left and right hand corners; to the back left and right corners; over in the the centre will be two digital jukeboxes. It will be free, where anyone can select a song. There will only be allowance for one song per customer; with a continuous playlist being selected. The jukebox menu will be interactive, so you can select a song by searching- or find by genre/decade etc. There will be access to over 500,000 songs, and will include every genre and style. There will be screens in the centre of the room (overhead) that will show which song is next- running order etc.; everyone will be able to hear the music. There will be four speakers suspended from the ceiling- on each corner of a chandelier. The music will not be so loud that you cannot converse, yet will be crisp and true. Using latest technologies it will be possible to blend the sound of music and conversation so that neither becomes too distracting.


As you enter, to the right hand side of the building is a small stage. It will measure 15 by 20ft, and will host intimate performances. At the back of the building will a main stage. It will be 25 by 30ft, and will have a retro feel. There will be a blend of modern, Gothic and American; giving the stage a unique feel. The stage will host larger gigs; whereas in front of the stage, will be an orchestra pit that can host 30 musicians.


The décor will be a main attraction. On the walls will be paintings and landscapes- depicting famous album covers, music photos, band portraits and designs. It will encompass a large range of artists where there will also be canvases on the wall. There will be modified street signs and portraits, giving it a retro and classic feel (all at once). The premises be have white walls as well, where lyrics can be written and designs drawn. The entire interior will mix modern and vintage (with artifacts and designs reflecting this). It will not be like Hard Rock Café where it is a sort of music museum or attraction- it will be subtle and play second fiddle to the key components. Overhead will be several chandeliers, providing a romantic feel. At night these will be on; soothing lighting will bathe the interior.


There are two methods of access: from the ground to upper level. There will be a staircase to the right of the entrance; in addition there will be a small lift- giving disabled access (and allowing transportation of equipment, stock etc.)

Upper Level:


This is a store with Rough Trade in mind. The store is split into different sections. There is an extensive store that offers music by genre, decade etc. and has a large stock- similar to HMV’s largest stores. As with the lower level of the bar, there are paintings, designs and artwork on the walls- and ceilings. There is band merchandise and memorabilia; signed memorabilia; musical instruments. The idea is that there is everything under one roof that a musician, music fan or music-lover could want. There is a charming décor that mixes ’90s Seattle, modern-day U.S. and Rough Trade. It is homely, modern and cutting-edge.Besides being an all-inclusive store, there is a profit-share initiative. Schemes will be set up to allow a small percentage of profits to go to independent record stores and local bands.

Consoles and screens:

This will incorporate everything from the Psychoacoustics music website: https://musicmusingsandsuch.wordpress.com/2013/10/. There will be about two dozen consoles arranged- within the middle of the floor. These allow direct access to the website. As mentioned, the website aims to make it simple to create music, music videos; collaborate online and distribute music. It incorporates all of the best features of the major music websites, and offers so much more. People will be able to access the website through the consoles. There will be two large walls which will display music videos, or can alternatively project images from any of the consoles- for instance, if a music video has been created it can be instantly projected.


Dominating one half of the level will be the studio. It is a medium-sized studio that will offer all the benefits and technologies of the biggest out there. It will encompass a studio, rehearsal room, control room; plus a lounge and bedroom. There will be an in-house engineer, producer and representatives- they offer rates that are very competitive. The hope is that is will appeal to new bands but  drag in big names and established acts.

Garden and Tranquility:

In the centre of the level will be a small garden. There will be a water feature and plants; aimed to relax and inspire. There will also be a balcony, that will provide a small garden and seating.


There will be chandeliers on this level, but a more toned-down feel. There is impressive lightning and a warm and relaxing vibe. Again there will be leather chair and sofas- located near the consoles.

I am still in the initial stages, yet see everything in my head: the look, the sounds and smells- and all besides. I am open to idea as there are many whom would frequent a place like this. What do people want? What needs including?


The final arm of the business would be a charity. Set up under the Psychoacoustics name, it would be situated in London- in the bar/cafe venue. Designed to raise money for musicians, it would be a small office consisting of 9-10 employees. The money would be generated from donations and performances- at the bar. In addition, profits generated from the website and bar would be fueled into the charity- they in turn would go to musicians. The money would go to bands and artists (struggling to raise funds for recording and music-making). Anyone unable to afford equipment- and the means to record- would be given chances. A website would be generated where people can donate funds; contact the charity and apply for help. Events and concerts would be held to generate awareness and funds; in addition to campaigns. The biggest aim is to work with charities like Mind to develop better understanding of mental health issues. So many musicians are plagued with depression, anxieties and various psychological issues- not a lot is being done. Working with charities, it is the aim to make awareness a key- piloting TV adverts and campaigns; making depression a big a concern as cancer. We would have musicians acting as ‘ambassadors’; lending their voices and stories to the cause- historical and legendary artists and new acts. This all goes in hand with special events which will be planned every year- bringing musicians (and those affected) together. Designed to provide help and support, the charity would get in contact with the venerable and affected- making sure they get the support and help needed. It is something very close to my heart, and will be a way of bringing depression into the light- destigmatising it.


Although a lot of my words are a rederivation of previous posts, the impetus and necessity- of the goals- is unwavered and redefined- new events and urgency has pressed me to go into action. The record label would be called Acoustic Vinyl. Continuing that ‘acoustic’ theme, the record label would be based in London- hopefully in the East End. Most labels have an edict and ethos: they represent certain genres and artists. This label is boundary-free and acts an Indie endeavour. The idea would be to represent artists from all around the globe- every genre and form of music is considered. The goal is to embrace and represent the best and most ambitious music out there- enforced by my endeavours as a reviewer. So many of the acts- I have assessed- are unrepresented and in need of backing. Baffled by the lack of attention- that comes their way- I struggled to speculate why record labels have not jumped on them. The label would also produce its own records and released- like Third Man Records. With designs of having a studio available for all the artists- in east London- the label will have ambitions to grow and compete with the biggest out there. Working in tandem with Psychoacoustics, acts would be able to play at the bar; awareness would be raised (to get the acts seen and heard) and give a home to those worthy of wide acclaim. The record label will have an interactive and multimedia website: including artist biographies, videos, updates and music- it will give a huge overview of what the company stands for.

In addition to other endeavours- purulent and honourable alike- my own music has been gripping my brain and sleepless nights.  One thing I discovered a long time ago was that I was probably made for an animated comedy- I am the sort of guy that can mimic every voice I hear; have an insane about of sounds and accents swirling around my head.  Normally- for people who afflicted thus- they can biodegrade their burden through the medium of TV. Unable to get my- frankly paradigm-altering (well, good anyway)- animated comedy off the ground, I have had to focus my vocals to music.  Being obsessed with the human voice- lyrics and wordplay too- it has manifested itself across Marriage: The Beautiful Revenge.  My band- Death of the Sweetheart- has just me, alas.  I am looking for London-based musicians to come along for the ride- be part of a Queens of the Stone Age-cum-Steely Dan type music band.  Somewhere where impunity and infidelity ranks alongside partnership and… oh screw it- I need guys and gals to help me out.

I guess that is part of the aim (of the website and business); to get some people to my cause.  Selfish and self-promoting I know, yet I am excited about my songs and ideas- I shall marginalise the shameless plugging in a second!  I am so pumped to get ‘the ball rolling’- make me stamp on the music world.  In a future post, I shall go more into the album tracks- all 15 of them- and try to distill them as best as possible.  With vocals, octaves and lyric snaps teasing my brain with a sturdy badinage, I hope to find three to four (hey, five even) players- if you know of any, let me know… Keen to throw a multiple mix of genres into the denigration, I have been inspired by everyone from Duke Ellington to Judas Priest my album is probably going to be less than focused; ambitious in its scope and ambitions.  If you are going to go into (an overcrowded) music industry; make sure you hit hard and fast- it brings me back to the physical nature of music.  One of the greatest things about starting a band is the physicality and tangible aspect.  Pressing the CDs and vinyls excites me already.  I have already gleefully designed the album cover- marking me as a bit of a megalomaniac- yet it is not enforced by control and egotism- the draw of creativity and possibility is too gorgeous to refute.  With a bold image in my mind- for back cover and inset photos too- I think about the CD; it will be recorded on both sides and feel like a double album.  You do not need to turn the CD over; after the last track (on Side A) it flips- gives a vinyl crackle and needle drop’ before running to the second side.  All of the tracks flow into one another- like the second side to Abbey Road– and I am keen to make as many breakthroughs as possible using traditional methods and forms.  The CD itself will have two different designs; one half is vinyl- it will look like a miniature vinyl- the other is clear (looking like glass)- both have distinct lettering and designs on each.  The entire album works like a concept; it documents a relationship from the first moments; through to marriage and then divorce- working backwards (at the half-way mark) to arrive back at the start of the relationship.

What I want to do with the album, is to go in hard and fast- incorporate everything I have learnt from new music and put it into my work.  Dylan-esque vivid tales- circa Highway 61 Revisited– will come out in Sister, Did You Hear Me Call?  Arcade Fire-cum-Disco in Communicator– Judas Priest-via-Soundgarden mixed in Making Up For Lost Time.  In addition to original songs, there will be two covers: Avalanche and I Want to Be The Boy To Warm Your Mother’s Heart.  The former is one of Leonard Cohen’s most unsettling tracks- a dark and haunting number that never relents.  The latter is from The White Stripes’ album Elephant.  One of the lesser tracks, it shows Jack White as a nervy and try-hard lover; someone who is trying to make impressions on his sweetheart’s mother.  The idea is to turn the former into some ethereal and transcend- remove the sexiest and violent aspects (without taking out a word) and given it s face-lift.  Aiming for the same sort of stillness (as Jeff Buckley’s) version of Hallelujah, I am aiming high.  The latter I want more wracked and pained.  The same vocal strength and stagger the likes of Paolo Nutini and Sam Smith (inject in their work) needs to be seen here.  Instrumental moments, layered vocals and stone-cold grooves all lead to the finale: Vanity Mirror.  Trying to out-epic the likes of Bohemian Rhapsody and Stairway to Heaven, it is the most ambitious thing I have written.  Most new albums have some standout tracks and great moments- my hope is to match the best of the last 20 years.  It may seem unrealistic and a stretch, but the words and ideas are taking shape; the determination is there- if I can find awesome band members, I am half-way there. Music means more than sound and flavour- the textures and feel (physical) seduces me; I love the look of a physical product- seeing everything compounded into a hand-held bundle.  I shall not waffle any more; just wanted to present some transparency- and clarify and reintroduce my earlier topic (about digitalisation).

With a few weeks until I run my half-marathon- and raise funds for Mind– I have been thinking a lot about issues like depression, music and how the two intertwine. So few people are aware of how big an issue depression is; what is consists of- how deadly and unforgiving it is. The idea behind charity endeavours is not only to raise awareness in a wider sense- make sure people are protected and given the support they need. Music can provide a terrific creative outlet; it has curative and detoxing potentials; able to lift moods and sadness. Of course, music has limited and confined potential- in order to fully tackle the issue, more needs to be done. It is hoped the charity would provide finance, support and development- help those most needy and ensure they are looked after. In terms of the website, bar/cafe and record label, I am looking out at the music community- supporting and proffering the artists that go unrecognised; that deserve a bigger voice. The website makes music-making and collaborating easier.

Its social media aspect works better than Facebook and Twitter; it concentrates more on sharing and good (than self-obsession); it has fewer problems and limitations- the big two are seriously lacking in so many areas. Acting as a way of connecting with musicians and discovering new joys, the social media side of things will be very different indeed. As I have finished writing most of an album- for a hypothetical band- I am searching for musicians and like-minded people. Determined to put my music out there and seduce as much as I can, I am determined to get things moving- I am finding it hard to get band members. So few websites exist- that join musicians and look at this problem- it is hoped this can be tackled and eradicated. It would be great to hear people’s input; what everyone reckons- if they would be interested in what I have laid out. So many musicians are coming through; so many young listeners are passing (over older music); too much music is being sucked into computers- I am hoping to change this and makes some steps. As much as anything, there are gaps in the market; definite needs out there- hopefully Psychoacoustics and Acoustic Vinyl will go some way towards fulfilling these. With all of the above being said, I shall ask one thing:

WHO’S in…?

About the Author:


Gone, but never forgotten


Track Review: Jessica Chase- The Only One


Jessica Chase

The Only One


The Only One is available at:


Coming Down is available from:



The Only One9.5/10.0

Heaven Won’t Change9.4

Long Haul Baby9.4

Child’s Play9.4

We Are an Arrow9.3

Afraid of the Dark9.3

God Made Lana Del Rey9.6


God Made Lana Del Rey


The Only One, Heaven Won’t Change, Child’s Play, God Made Lana Del Rey


5th August, 2014


Wax Records


Pop, Electro., Experimental


The Canadian solo artist wants her music to put the listener on the outside; awaiting a storm- raptured by the wind and building tension. Jessica Chase showcases a tremendous talent and febrile brilliance (throughout Coming Down). The Only One is one of the E.P.’s most direct and stunning examples- a song that shows just what a huge talent the Ontario Electro.-Pop star is


WHEN it comes to arresting and stunning artists…

there are few that can top Canadian Jessica Chase. In addition to being one of the most beautiful women in music, her songs have compelled and connected with multitudes of listeners. Following on from the success of her previous singles, her E.P. Coming Down is gaining some incredible reviews and feedback. Having listened to it myself, I can pay testament to how incredible and nuanced it is. One of the most invigorating and captivating Pop artists in the world, Chase has brought to mind a few points. Having spent a few days away from Canada- concentrated on U.K. musicians- I am back in my ‘second home’. There are a couple of points I shall raise- when thinking of Chase- but for the moment I am looking at the solo female market. The solo artists that come through- in the mainstream- have been producing some mixed results. Having adored albums by the likes of George Ezra, La Roux and FKA twigs, I am excited to see what is coming forth. Some artists- naming no names- have come in with some tepid and unextrodinary efforts- it is only natural there is going to be some weakness and disappointment. New music is producing more sturdy and reliable returns- so many of the acts I have reviewed have struck me with their inventiveness and sounds. Jessica Chase is one of the most impressive and original solo acts in the world- emanating from an area that has been stamping out some terrific musicians. The Toronto-based musician is showing why Canada is such a potent and mesmerising force. I have reviewed a mix and sprinkling of Canadian bands and solo acts- most from the Ontario region- and am always surprised by how pressing and urgent (musicians are there). Chase is doing things differently; in her own indubitable way- her fresh and uplifting songs have been exciting tongues and minds (across the globe). It is always hard for solo artists to make a big impression (as the bands of the world) as their lot and day-to-day life is that much harder. Having to take care of all the promotional and creative duties; it can be a lonely and difficult life- those that succeed should be commended. If the mainstream darlings have taught us anything, it is that the key to success is honing a unique and distinct sound- few musicians take the trouble to separate themselves from the pack. Having been entranced by some scintillating offerings (this year), it is the realms of Pop and Electro.-Pop that have struck me hardest. Providing a sense of drama, passion and personal insight, the genres have seen some terrific confessional outpourings- from La Roux’s Trouble in Paradise to FKA twigs’s LP1. Each of those female icons has provided a wealth and treasure trove of deep and layered sounds; spiky and hard-hitting words; diary page dramas- Chase is someone who can easily fit alongside these acts. Among her interests are:

Fairytales, Volcanoes, Trees and Nature, Love, Animals, Danger, Beauty, Art, Music, Dreams,The inner workings of the mind, Fitness, Family, Curiosity, Karma and Life.”

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Before I mention my third point, I will look at Chase’s music itself- what sort of themes and style she favours. Having been writing songs since childhood, she favours etherealness and nature- over more repressive avenues. When distilling the essence of her music, Chase explained it thus:

For me, writing music is all about spacing out and finding a place in your heart that feels right. These songs are about as in the moment as I can manage, and each one makes be feel like I’m standing outside in the wind and leaves, and there’s a dark sky and a big rain storm coming (which is the best feeling).”

Few musicians are able to summarise and drill down to the bedrock- explain how music makes them feel; why it drives them. Our heroine has a clear passion and understanding of music- the amount of magisterial force and luster she summons (through her music) takes the breath away. Strangely- or perhaps not- I have been finding myself more gripped by female artists- as opposed the chaps. I will conclude with one point: what next year will be offering. I think now- as much as any time in history- the stage is set for new artists to take the spotlight; transcend beyond the local gig circuit- claim their rightful place among the most profitable and celebrated musicians in the world. Coming off of a truly unexpected reviewing experience- documenting a tremendous debut album by a Yorkshire-based band- it is startling how much more ambitious and hungry (new artists are) compared with the mainstream- they have that extra layer of necessity and drive. Taking inspiration from historical acts; blending genres and styles together- the finest cocktails coming through are deserving of a huge audience. Chase doesn’t simply sit within the confines and prerequisites of Pop- that safe and universal sound that does not go out of its way to excite and intrigue. Sharing similarities with the likes of La Roux, Ellie Goulding, Chvrches and Florence and the Machine- electronic swathes and pumping emotions are mixed with tenderness and introspective longing. The women of the Electro.-Pop genre are some of the most impressive acts out there; the vocals are entrancing and gorgeous- they are inspiring legions of new musicians. It is not just her lyrics and themes that are distinct and memorable- Chase has a spectacular and gripping voice that makes you want to stick your head through the speakers; get inside the studio and hear the music up-close and personal. Topped off with a spicy and flavoursome crust of sounds and themes, the package (the Canadian provides) is fully-rounded and hypnotic music. With our very own Little Sparrow, Lydia Baylis and Alison Levi- providing their own takes on the genres of Pop, Folk and Soul- it is terrific to embrace and discover international gems- newcomers that demand your soul and full attention. Coming Down showcases a body of work that is bursting with life, passion and personality- so much tenderness and beauty nestles in the blankets of urgency and panache. I will get down to assessing the E.P. in due course; the single The Only One is already proving to be one of my favourite tracks of 2014- it is a song that demands repeated plays and fond investigation. Chase is a songwriter that delves deep and touches people- writing lyrics and words that can be extrapolated and understood by most of us. Both connective and embracing; heart-aching and gripping, we are going to be hearing a lot more from Jessica Chase.

It is worth seeing where our heroine came from- in order to get the full picture behind Coming Down. Have released a single previously, you can see a development and expansion.  The E.P. is essential the debut- given that only one song has come before. Just a Girl is upbeat; it has electronic rushes and an aching vocal performance. The lyrics have an earnest and honest skin; with a distinct and noble heartbeat, it shows a romantic side to Chase- imbued with her talent for subversion and expectation defiance. Vocal layers give an edginess and Dance-orientated feel; the song is weighty and hypnotic. The track is perfect for dancefloors and the clubs- it has a summer-ready feel and innate ability to get your feet moving. Impassioned and endlessly upbeat, Just a Girl has an energy and determination that never lets go- one of the young artist’s most catchy and urgent tracks. Chase’s new E.P. shows a development and step forward. The rush and elliptical sound blends- seen on Just a Girl– comes through on some numbers. The Only One has a burbling and dark electronic opening. Gorgeous and intriguing, the track marries Hip-Hop elements and Dance avenues- delicate and breathy vocals have a head full of smoke. Those distinct and emotional tones show determination and emotion. Our heroine has more than one lover- she is not tied to one particular person. The momentum never drops and the gripping story puts distinct images in the mind- you can see our heroine giving the kiss-off to her boy. Strong and determined, it has a defined rebellious and empowered backbone. Heaven Won’t Change is youthful and spright. Our heroine does not want to grow up today- there is a vibrancy and energetic rush that has a distinct charm and smile. The passionate and breezy sound is backed by some vibrating electronics and pummeled beats. The see-saw blends of Electro. and Dance give the song a huge amount of uplift and determination- it is another song that gets the feet moving and the arms swaying. Demonstrating a huge amount of alacrity and soul, the sweetness and passion mingles Ellie Goulding and La Roux- the resultant sound is one that sticks long in the mind. Long Haul Baby is more restrained and tender. Our heroine says- to her boy- “I love you“; it “is a lie.” The vocal rises and belts; the breadth and width- of Chase’s voice- comes to the fore- that hugely impressive talent makes its mark. Our heroine is never going to “love you right“- her mind is split and her heart elsewhere. Cooing and tender, the restrained and soothed beat takes the E.P. in another direction- demonstrating an adept mobility and sense of range. Child’s Play is a rightful highlight. The swaying and sensual vocal has potency and sweetness- the voice is crisper and higher in the mix. The classical backing touches put me in mind of The Nutcracker– that balletic-cum-punchy blend sits beautifully together. With a catchy chorus and indelible feel, the track stays in your mind- it is a gorgeous number. The swelling electronics back messages that question desire- is there a price tag on it?- and stealing- Is there a difference between taking a nickel and a dime? Deep issues and themes are explored; intelligently deployed and uttered, it is a song with plenty of nuance and quality. We Are an Arrow is edgy and direct. The vocal is high up again; swelling and atmospheric compositional moments fuse Trance and Trip-Hop aspects- Dance flavours add a kick and spice. A stronger and more pugnacious rabble, the song strikes and grabs- there are haunting elements. Afraid of the Dark mixes Pop and Country swathes; love-lorn and torn, our heroine is not afraid- she wants to be touched (and sets her mind out there). The vocal is impassioned and soulful; stirring and levitating- it swaggers and teases. With a constant movement and perfect pacing, it is a number you will be repeating and playing again- it shows just what a nimble and eclectic sense of adventurousness Chase has. Showcasing her talented ability to shift lyrical styles, the song hits hard. God Made Lana Del Rey is perhaps the E.P.’s finest hour. A haunting and ethereal vocal pay pays tribute to- and mocks- Lana Del Rey. Our heroine has a similar etherealness and spectral sound; her words do not look at video games, bad boys, Corvettes and shagging- that idealistic and lascivious movie lifestyle. No L.A. roadtrips and come-to-mummy declarations; no collagen lips and hazy trips- God has left Chase well alone. The song mixes with and humour with some stirring and emotive thoughts. The lifestyle and talent the likes of Del Rey present- richness and insistent over-exuberance and tackiness- is investigated. The smooth and sensual vocal rules the roost- the heroine does not succumb to over-emoting and needless shouts. Some singers talk of- and possess- heroin scars and fast cars; the Canadian is a real girl and honest artist (that lives life realistically). Having not been given leg-ups and critical acclaim, she is doing things true and meaningful- if God is helping the Del Reys pull in the big bucks, our heroine is glad to be detached from that. Bruce Springsteen’s motifs of fast cars and girls pre-date and front-run Del Rey- parables can be drawn between their brand of luxuriant lyrics and sex-obsessed minds. Bob Dylan parodied Springsteen acutely in Tweeter and the Monkey Man– for the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys. That song not only kicked ass- it kicked Springsteen’s ass! Wit and borderline-hilarious, it was a perfect put-down and indictment. Similarly, Prefab Sprout took the Born in the U.S.A. author down a peg (on their hit) Cars and Girls. Documenting (there is more to life than both), the track had elements of truth and meaning. Chase provides her own slam and take on this subject- perfectly undressing and dethroning the sort that favour richness and hollow fame over reality. A perfectly memorable end- to a tremendous E.P.- it takes your breath. Having developed hugely- since her debut cuts- the Canadian staggered me with her range of voices and ideas. Topics do not stick to one theme or image; they transform and interchange- covering love, fame and independence; everyone will find something to enjoy. The compositions shift from heady and witches brew electronics to pillow talk acoustic moments- every potent soundtrack beautifully supports the songs. If Chase’s voice puts you in mind of Del Rey, then that is the only comparison- as a songwriter and artist she is a sibling with no related D.N.A. In a different league, Chase acts as an antithesis- she has the sweetness, haunt and passion; her songs have a credibility and universality that unites critics and listeners. It will be great to see where she goes from here; how her voice and talent evolves- on this evidence, she is likely to impress hugely. With such a conviction and determination, she is an artist I will be seeking out more- I cannot wait to hear more from her! After taking the step to record her songs and historical thoughts, I am sure she has fresh inspiration and lease- it will be great to see what her next record contains.

When looking at acts- that could have inspired Jessica Chase- I will get one U.S. name done up top: Lana Del Rey. Whilst actively rebelling against the full-lipped Lizzy Grant, there are some threads common to both. While the lyrical themes and compositions are vastly removed, some of the vocal performances share similarities. The best album comparison- in terms of albums- is Ultraviolence. The album- unlike her previous offerings- has been met with critical acclaim. Commentators have pointed out the confidence in the vocals- something that was lacking from her earlier cuts. The melodies are universally beautiful; the choruses clicks; the music sweeps and swoops- that bold and daring soul mandates every song. Del Rey came across as a bruised beauty: someone who seemed comfortable in black-and-white movie scenes and Technicolor highway drives. Some of her naivety and predictability had gone- the samey and one-dimensional themes and variations- with coquettish sexuality and quasi-transgressive qualities coming in. The hyper-stylised approach- the Hollywood Pop star gave to her music- is less evident on Ultraviolence. The sultry and overstated orchestral moments- of Born to Die– resonated because they were unique and unexpected. Keen to not repeat herself, she projected divergence and difference. The slow-building atmospheres have superimposed Twin Peaks craziness- languid beauty and opulent arrangements came into effect. While Chase imbues more stereo blitz and raging upbeat into her music, she has some of Del Rey’s diversity and sense of occasion- making sure each note and moment is full and magisterial. The lyrics- from Chase- are more profound and fertile; the vocals fuller and less confined. That sweet and breathy undertone is apparent with both artists. The protracted and rolling melancholy- across Ultraviolence- gives birth to some of the L.P.’s finest moments; greasy Blues-Rock (metered restraint) makes the album more prosperous and gold-seeking. Chase provides density and lush songs; full bodies and beating hearts; jagged lips and spitting hips- the same blend that enforces some of Del Rey’s best (current moves). Whilst Del Rey seems like a character- deadpan affections, lispy lyrics; unerring desperation- Chase is far less tragic and contrived- what you hear is an honest account of a pure and relatable woman. Before I mention some other U.S.-based idols, there are plenty of British acts- that have compelled Chase. Ellie Goudling is an apt and pertinent name- one should introduce. The copulating glisten and energy of Lights set Goulding out as a name to be proud of. Our heroine instills elements of (this 2010) album into her own make-up. In terms of some ambivalent critical feedback, there is nothing wishy-washy and lukewarm about Chase’s debut. When Goulding arrived, many praised her lush and heady Electro. blends. Her style and panache set her apart; that sweet-cum-sexual voice made everything sound utterly beguiling and captivating. The gushing and breathless rushes made her songs standout and stirring- Chase has a similar sense of passion and headiness. Marking herself as a female du jour, she (Goulding) rivaled Florence and the Machine and Adele for effect and scintillation. The superstar-level gems had glossy attraction and sparkly Pop- mingled with gutsy Folk and all-consuming passion. Chase incorporates (some of these) elements into her tracks- she has the same potential to be at the top of her field; that guiding and inspirational talent (that is not confined to genre and gender borders). Delicate grooves, blipping Disco and dashes of pumped spiciness defined Lights; the album saw the fog-swaddling soprano seduce with ample ease. Minor-key melodies and brisk Electro. rhythms were augmented by thoughtful and authoritative production values- with everything revolving around Goulding’s stunning voice. The aerated and pretty moments- on Lights– were not too slight; the groundbreaking moments scintillated mouth-watered critics- and created huge fervency and hoopla. Goulding was never content to project one sound and style; sometimes acoustic guitars lead- other times bombastic and free-for-all electronic screams. Chase changes gear and delineation across her E.P.- incorporates Goulding’s most notable and nibble qualities- ensuring her voice and songwriting comes from her very distinct quarters. La Roux is a new name to many- her Trouble in Paradise album is one of 2014’s finest discs. On that album, you can see some key moments- that may have compelled Chase. Having recorded her E.P. (around the same time as La Roux), it is hard to say how direct (La Roux’s influence is); one thing is for sure- there are some definite similarities. Having garnered mass critical thumbs-up- this was her first album in five years- the biggest compliments were directed towards the ubiquitous and unending songwriting quality. Never subsiding or cracking, every song marked itself out as a hit- having recently listened to the album, you are blown away by the constant search for perfection. Almost overburdened- and an embarrassment of riches- the album showed staggering consistency and a sky-scraping set of ambitions. Less sparse than her debut, Trouble in Paradise provided bass-heavy newbies update and redefine her sound- a shift that drew many new fans forth. There is terror and kiss-offs; punch and too-close-for-comfort anxiety- the radiating beauty and warmth is what lingers. Chase instills similar contradictions and distinctions; her ambitions is as lofty and unnerving- she seems to be an equivocal and paramount talent. The quintessential similarity is the range of emotions and sounds. Both talented and tremendous lyricists, a spectrum (and plethora) of witticisms and heartbreaking confessions are ladeled- the steaming and flavoursome soup burns but nourishes; enriches and satisfies. The aural candy of Trouble‘ saw fizzy Electro. beats fight robotic stagger and crawl- the music is the sort that is perfect for roadtrips down sweaty highways. The expansiveness and multifarious switches make La Roux such an endless talent- she is comfortable in various arenas and scenarios. Chase is as viable and staggering when you digest her music- plenty there to suggest she will be a mainstream star of the future. She is as self-assured and convincing (as La Roux); the aural package of Trouble in Paradise is a getaway for the mind and soul- in the same manner, Coming Down is a heady detox that matches fragility and openness with cathartic bluster and upheaval- the E.P. is a creative trip into our heroine’s bursting mindset. Before my final trio of names, Florence and the Machine comes to mind. Led by a flame-haired and alluring Siren; Florence Welch’s nom de guerre has produced some of this generation’s most immediate work. If you are looking for comparisons- in terms of records- then Ceremonials (Florence and the Machine’s most up-to-date album) is the best starting-point. The subtle sprinklings of different instruments- harp, drums and classical strings- augmented songs and gave them nuance. The guiding producer hands of Paul Epworth made sure the album shone and glistened- the entire album is unflinching and deeply impressive. Ornate tapestries and bold, big moments sat with movie trailer-ready ballads and Electro.-despair- ‘Britpop’ mixes and orchestral Pop play seamlessly in the mix. Lavish spectacles and a distinct Britishness give Ceremonials a huge sense of pride. Chase fuses British and North American influences; the platonic lavishness and ornateness sits along augmentative beauty and impassioned rampancy- her songs are as consistent and action-packed as Welch’s. You can see some similarities in Ceremonials and Coming Down– let us hope the Canadian heroine keeps her sights and ambitions high. Chvrches are an underrated outfit that are having effects on a lot of new musicians. Having released their debut album- The Bones of What You Believe– last year, the sizzling acclaim and rapture has only started to die to embers. The laser-precise vocals- behind the Scottish act- made their album such a winner. Lauren Mayberry marked herself out as one of the most impressive and scintillating singers around- Chase has a similar talent and sense of conviction. Sophisticated and catchy hooks mingle with drama and light- the same sort of qualities evident in Chase’s debut. Both acts blend sharp and sweet- on The Bones of What You Believe there was a dedication towards familial strife. The heroine rallied against those close to her; seemed disjointed and betrayed- these shadowy topics were lifted with sweet and hushed vocals. Big sounds and endeavours are explored without irony; ’80s influences are investigated and appropriated- it is a unique and dizzying listen. Chase is an equally captivating voice; her songs mix diverse shades and emotions- everything is wrapped up in sophistication and intuitive confidence. Our heroine is as divine and eye-catching as Mulberry; neither woman takes crap from anyone- both are smart as anyone out there. Interdependence and separation come to the fore- on Chvrches’ work- the bullishness and punch masks some deep emotions and frailty. Phosphonic guitars and circuitous structures made The Bones‘ such a triumph- Chase has created similar spellbind on her sapling outing. The last duo of names I will bring in are Broods and The Weeknd. The former are a New Zealand Indie-Pop duo that have been setting the music world alight. Their debut album is released in a week- the hype and speculation regarding it has led to some heady predictions. The ruthless writing- that goes into Evergreen– leads to big moments and sweltering colours- catchiness and hypnotism do not let up. Whilst it is hard to reveal too many comparisons- as their album is not yet released- there are comparables and similar motivations. Both acts are compelled by emotions, honesty and ambition. Broods have been rehearsing and honing their sound for months; blending Electro. sounds with Pop lightness- instilling it with vibrant beats and some strong-willed outpourings. Chase has a similar confident and personality- she has worked hard at her music and put huge amounts of herself (into it). The Weeknd are among the most impressive acts of the moment. One of few countrymate influences, the solo icon set tongues wagging with Kiss Land– his latest album. Scaled-up sonics and headphone beauty shows a personal and deeply relevant set of songs- superbly crafted and performed with conviction.

A certain magnanimity opens up proceedings. Graceful and swan-like, the ruminative and bubbling electronic parable is fascinating to hear. Both romantic and distant, you get caught up in the blend of tranquility and urgency. As the intro. progresses, echoes and samples are weaved in- discordant whispers (of vocals) and our heroine’s wordless coo are inseminated- the heady blend builds the layers and sense of occasion. The luster or splendour causes obsequiousness and servile allure- the listener is tempted in and intrigued by what is to come. When our heroine steps to the mic., her voice is firm and passionate. With her head “full of smoke” she needs to be helped out of her clothes- instantly the mind starts generating images and possibilities. One part of your brain looks at incendiary avenues- a fire or tragedy has unfolded- but that would be too literal- it is a metaphor for an emotional fire; a state of mind that is causing anxiety and pain. There is lust and oxytocin ambitions in our heroine’s thoughts- having been clouded and weighed-down (by life) she wants a night of recklessness. Abandon and thrill-seeking are ruling her ambitions; that tangible need and longing comes through in the voice- you start to picture the story developing. Whereas contemporaries- such as Lana Del Rey- would beat down a highway in a U.S. muscle car; cigarette smoke and Coca Cola name-checked and ascribed; here there is an honour and maturity to things- a woman who needs some temporary salvation and fulfillment. Not driven or defined by any juvenile tendencies, she needs escape and comfort- she wants to be held “like a prayer.” The way Chase employs and presents her linguistic flair is quite striking- that commingling sense of sexuality and restraint play alongside one another; the words crackle and sizzle with possibility- there is always a niggling sweat bead that runs down a salivated lip. As things unfold and develop, our heroine shows his alpha and emancipated side- claws and teeth show some bite and scratch. Surveying her sweetheart, she has little sympathy or regard- he is looking sorry and passed-over. Thinking the bond was going to be permanent and endless, perhaps some disillusionment has come into play- a meter of naiveté too. Our heroine is casting her net- getting what she needs- and definitely on top- the control and the power is all hers. Needing human touch and release- more than love and longevity- there is a hot and heavy aspect to the song. Usually female singer-songwriters- when talking of love and sex- show scars and broken hearts- they bemoan the lack of passion and commitment. Chase subverts expectation and makes sure things are crystal-clear: she has a determined mind and goal. Between lines, the electronic beats rustle up sensations of La Roux- that emotive and atmospheric darkness provides drive and soul. Our heroine knows- her man- is special and unique; he is not the only one- there is a feeling of get-over-yourself-now; the night is for living. The protracted and ferreted to and fro creates drama and speculation; the song lets you paint scenarios and ideas- it has a cinematic projection that means the Indie flick rolls with each cigarette burn and changed reel. The track remains alluring and teasing; the chorus never explodes or bursts into life- that measured and controlled tactfulness keeps The Only One as come-hither (as the words themselves). As we approach the 2:00 mark, our heroine’s voice mutates and sparkles. When her breathy sweet edge elongates I am reminded of Stevie Nicks- especially her performance on Dreams– when lower it has a strong and womanly pride; the variations and colours unfolded keep the song mobile and endlessly engaging. Never letting her voice wander or needlessly roller-coaster, Chase offers so much fortitude, passion and honesty- backing her striking and earnest words. Speaking to her lover, she explains that there are others in her life; living for experiences and newness, there are no ideals of permanent relations- perhaps she is feeling too suffocated (and defined by her lover). With her man “hanging around“, our heroine (has no intention of) repeating bad experiences- she has been in the situation before; keen to not go down that same path. There is no vitriol or coquettishness: each registered emotion and word is dignified and direct- the intention is to make her feelings know; nothing more. Showcasing some consideration and thoughtfulness, our heroine does not want to wound or dislocate the hero- let him down gentle and reveal the full truth. Transparency and lyrical directness melt to transitory electronic percolations and inflections. Those delirious, delicious and elliptical sonic warbles keep a buoyancy and optimism afoot; the fusion of Electro. and Pop elements is highly effective. The track is never glib or inconsequential; not forced or too insistent- Chase has gone to great lengths to hone and perfect her motives. Vocals and utterances are given full consideration; every note and line is performed with an uttermost economy and qualitative edge. The composition is sparse but hugely evocative- showing its heart and soul when the mood becomes a little tense. Lyrics have filmic skins and fully-rounded storylines; the balance of emotions is beautifully realised- there are no immature or vague moments. Distinguishing herself aside from the raft of ingenue and ephemeral Pop stars, Chase marks out her vibrant stall. Pummeling and Trip-Hop-inspired beats- reminiscent of Massive Attack and Portishead- spar with stuttered and fragmented vocal snatches. This results in some aural expansion; lyrics are put aside as the music does all the talking. Representing physical development and structure, it may represent a new night- and a fresh hotbed of passion- or an interval and regression- maybe our heroine is walking out and walking the street-lit sidewalks. After the twilight rendezvous and itinerant rain-backed street scenes, Chase reflects and seems taken-aback. Not realising the effect (she has on men); the way her beauty and passion can intoxicate and grip- like heroine on a helpless soul- her boy seems shocked- he wanted things to last and bloom. As the shock waves (and quasi-tsunami reverberations) lace into the atmosphere, our heroine lets her sizzling voice into the spotlight. Words like “reload” are presented- giving a sexual and lascivious undertone to proceedings- as she advises (her man) to move on; have his fun and get back in the game. Our heroine has little intention of lingering and picking out wallpaper patterns; she made her feelings clear- she just wants the thrill and the chase. The final moments tick away (as the song’s core message is reinvigorated)- making sure her voice is heard. Throughout the track you are siding with Chase; you never really empathise with the hero- our heroine has not led him astray or blindsided him. As The Only One does its job, you evoke a smile and sly grin- it is a track that captures you with its honest charm and bold proclamations. Redefining gender roles (and the prominent urges of mainstream Pop), Chase offers something new and vibrant.

Having listened to the Coming Down E.P. I am deeply impressed by Jessica Chase. Here is an artist that does not stand still creatively- she is always moving and providing something new. Across the E.P.’s tracks, so much diversity and range is provided; the tracks change course and give insight into the creative mind. From broken love through to Lana Del Rey, the beautiful Canadian shows just what a fertile and ambitious talent she is. The Only One has a juggernaut strike; it never gets overtly angered or accusatory- the heroine keeps her voice and emotions cool and underexposed. You are always on Chase’s side; in her grip and grabs you find yourself gripped by her execution and urgency- that combination of sounds and sensations keeps the track alert and daring (from start to finish). It is a song that could fit effortlessly into the mainstream- it marries the sensibilities of La Roux and Ellie Goulding; it melts their best moments and never comes across as slight and waspish. Before I compliment Chase herself, it is worth noting a few points. The production is sharp and concise throughout. Never impeding upon the sound- nor too shiny and polished- it allows the song a chance to roost and captivate; all the notes and presentations have clarity and intelligibility. Throughout The Only One you are able to absorb the myriad notes and vocals; nothing is buried or mixed too low- the vocal is right up top and able to float over proceedings with authority. Chase herself proves she is a Jill-of-all-trades; someone who is comfortable and assured in all areas. As a writer she produces stunningly-realised and full songs- perhaps only God Made‘ tops The Only One. Her lead-off single is rife with brilliant moments and quotable lines. Keeping lyrics simple and effective, she never says too much (or rambles at all)- her economy and thoughtfulness means her direct codas are allowed to resonate in the mind. Compositional notes join everything from ’90s Trip-Hop (of the U.K.) to experimental moments of the modern-day; Pop lushness and swelling, orchestra Electro. jives too. The same way the likes of La Roux and Goulding have managed to seduce- with their firm and determined songs- Chase shows she is able to mix it up with them- I would not be shocked if she made her way to their heights (in the coming years). Backed with a voice that is natural, seamless and wide-ranging and you get full conviction and dedication- it is an instrument that can summon ethereal purity and lustful sexuality; via teasing tongue-licking and get-over-yourself directness. All of this makes The Only One a packed, nuanced and insatiable gem- a song that is perfect for every occasion. Giving the tempestuousness and capriciousness of our weather, there is never any assureredness at all- tracks like this are capable of lifting your mood (no matter what the outside brings). Swaggering and confident; measured and mature- Chase runs a gamut of emotions and elements. As stunning as The Only One is, listening to the E.P. (will give full impressions)- make sure you witness the Canadian in full flight; take in every song. Having formulated and moulded her craft since childhood; her recent developments point at snowballing ambitions- she has a lot more to say and get out there. The Only One is wholly capable of eradication emotional transgressions; elevating the spirits- a microcut of what the beautiful Canadian heroine is capable of. It is clear 2015 will see a lot more Jessica Chase music come forth.

I am glad Jessica Chase got in contact with me- wondering if I could review her music. Not only is her E.P. a triumph and stunning work; the lead-off single The Only One is one of the most immediate and gripping songs I have . When Chase described her music- how it is a matter of finding space and hitting home hard- you can hear that come through. All of her tracks have that passion and determination; they are in the moment and utterly alive- when listening you transform yourself to rain-lashed horizons; allow yourself to become enraptured in the mood and atmosphere of the surroundings. Atmosphere is what Chase summons up- her music has so much heart and fortitude. The poise, talent and spectacular beauty (Chase possess) makes her stick in your mind; she is someone with a huge future ahead. The E.P. Coming Down has already made its way into the iTunes chart- nestling alongside the likes of Sam Smith and Rhianna, no less. I have such a fine spot for certain moments; God Made Lana Del Rey makes me sigh and smile; it is a song that is intelligent and deep. Our heroine looks at God- as someone providing favours to the undeserving- granting boons to the flaccid and uninspired members of the musical clatch- the hollow fame-chasers. Chase has not been moulded by God; he/she has provided no helping hand- the song investigates religion and success through a striking and unique spectrum. Chase is in passionate and witty mood; her voice is determined and purposeful- it is one of her most memorable and stunning tracks. The Only One is a track that envelops your mind and grabs a hold of you- Chase never lets her stirring and indefatigable talent miss a beat. The woman quotes Murakami; she has a cheeky wit and rebelliousness; a tender beauty and jaw-dropping talent- I love her already! Canada is in the midst of a musical revolution; the genre armies are leading a charge to claim glory and regency- standing out from the artists of the U.K. and the U.S. Having gained plenty of enfevered reviews throughout Canada, many are expounding the wonders of Coming Down. It is music that is more mature and studied than contemporary fodder; the un-fantastic plastic puppets and muppets of the radio waves drone insistently and irritatingly about their woes and privileged problems- societal woes; their no-good boyfriends; phallocratic anger; their declining Gucci funds. I am not fully against acts like Jessie J, Lady GaGa and the like- those that are hardly among the best out there- I just find them desperately effete and flimsy. Their voices hardly grip and mesmerise; their lyrics trend lines of banality and juvenile tantrums- the music is anodyne and processed nonsense. Chase is a nascent development; part of a wave of (young) musicians that are putting the quality back into music. Away from the tabloid evilness and flashing bulbs of celebrity- an arena where many Pop artists love to lounge and prostitute themselves- we have a young woman who understands (how facile and repugnant those things are). She puts music first and has no desires to be a paparazzi obsession- her music and personality will never ever dip that low. It is no surprise many critics and music-lovers have clasped Chase to their chests; embraced her style and honesty- that unique and unparalleled lust and passion. In terms of synonyms and regularity, words like ‘passion’, ‘urgency’, and ‘soul’ are words I employ (in every review)- most of them are over 5,000 words so you can forgive such repetitiveness and verbosity. They have never been more apt as where contextualising Jessica Chase’s music. The passion of her voice and words shows just how meaningful they are- when decrying fame-hungry and deplorable sorts she never sounds more direct; when looking at love and herself that earnestness shine. It is the urgency of the deliveries that makes the music resonate and reverberate. There are no false moments and droning undertones; her songs and compositions are swelling and augmentative- designed to uplift the listener and purify their anxieties. The soul is an abstract concept; it is not a physical entity and chattel- more an essence and definition (of a person’s good and pure motives). Pablo Neruda claimed that laughter was the root of the soul; that which kept existence alive and pressing- otherwise it would be God; a non-existent and theorised entity. In his poem Clenched Soul, Neruda wrote the following words: “I have seen from my window/the fiesta of sunset in the distant mountain tops.” Being a devotee of writers (like Neruda and Murakami), words like these can be applied to Jessica Chase- her music summons up scenery, emotion, longing and beauty. Whatever you think about the soul- whether it is real or conceptual; eradicated or ever-present- it is the core inside all of us. Most human beings- the yawning ones- enrich their soul with family, jobs and ordinary endeavours; the people who have ambitions (and want to live a different life) are inspired by art- music is that which drives the most impassioned and distinct. Chase is an artist you should watch carefully as the year slips away- her music warrants some serious airplay and dedication. I hope she comes and plays London- not in Ontario; over in Blighty- and shows Britain just what she is made of. Having witnessed many of our home-grown musicians- who play similar music- rise and succeed, it is only a matter of time before Chase gets transatlantic regard. I know our heroine will not care too much for comments regarding her looks and beauty- it is highlighted too much when looking at female artists- so I will wrap things up (on a more relevant and pertinent note). Few artists in the mainstream seem to have the full package: that mixture of relatable personality, stunning music and multi-layered appeal. With so many artists and bands coming off as quite aloof; not as incendiary as their can be- when it comes to music- eyes and (bored) ears are turning towards the new crop making their moves. It is remiss to overlook just what they provide; how good some of the music is- take your thoughts away from the commercial and towards the noble. Jessica Chase finds inspiration in natural scenery; the atmosphere and weather- she wants her music to come across like a thunderstorm and meteorological revelation. When surveying her E.P.- and lead single- you can tell just how much music means to her; how keen she is to tell her messages to the world- that will stand her in good stead (with regards her potential). It may be early days, but all the signs are very promising indeed- I urge everyone to buy the Coming Down E.P. Investigate The Only One and all of its beauty and meaning; behold an artist that we will hear a lot more from. As we both share a connection with Haruki Murakami- Jess and me- I will leave you with a quote from him (from IQ84; that sums up our heroine): “Even if we could turn back, we’d probably never end up where we started.” Those words have so many meanings and interpretations; in my mind, they inspire people to look forward to the here and now- not back on something that has come before. Chase is an artist that does not look back or compare herself with others; she looks ahead and lives very much in the present. Of course, her mind is going to be trained to the future; the success (she will reap) and places she will go. Having taken the time to record music- that has been brewed and imagined since childhood- she is fulfilling her dreams and realising her inner-most desires. When it all comes down to it…

THAT is something that we should all take time to do.


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E.P. Review: Play Record Erase- New Colour

Play Record Erase

New Colour


New Colour is available from August 28th, 2014

Wars of the Intergalactic Kind9.8
Heart of Gold9.6
Asymmetry (Acoustic)9.8
For We Are Old (Acoustic)9.7

Wars of the Intergalactic Kind

Rapture, Wars of the Intergalactic Kind, Asymmetry (Acoustic), For We Are Old (Acoustic)

Alternative-Rock, Indie, Grunge, Rock, Prog.-Rock


From a city that keeps on giving arrives another stunning Leeds treasure. With the likes of Muse, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead and Arcane Roots- influencing their sound- Play Record Erase go deeper and further- New Colour showcases just what a distinct and fascinating personality they have. Having only formed this year, the quartet have crafted an incredible and rampantly assured debut


WITH the arrival of a fascinating and distinct new band, my mind has been mulling…

over various different issues. I will raise one now- and the next two (underneath the band biography). For now, I have been thinking of how groups come together; what inspires that embryosis. Being someone looking about for a band- and struggling to recruit like-minded folk- I am always fascinated to see how groups form and come about- what motivates that distinct friendship. A lot of modern-day acts meet by happenstance- bump into each other at a pub; join via mutual friends. In the past, the best and brightest bands were formed during their childhood and adolescence. The legends of song have links and bonds from a young age; enforced by their love of music (a band was formed)- that solid and long relationship meant the music was that much stronger. In an industry where there is disposability (and the need to make a quick buck), the Pop bands of the mainstream are hardly inspiring- as manufactured and plastic as a Hollywood face-lift. I despair when I look around the charts; bands like Neon Jungle, The Saturdays and- God help us all- One Direction seem like a pointless and humourless exercise- what the hell is the point of them? Having produced a myriad of dross and nauseating ‘music’, bands like this as the antithesis of modern music- what we should eradicate and dispense with. Artists that are genuine, talented and (have quality) do not come together via a committee or marketing department; they play instruments and have creative talent- their formation is as a result of mutual respect- and not the need to sexually arouse the 8-18 market. I appreciate that infantile and pre-pubescent minds are entitled to music, yet they seem like wasted currency- their naive lack of knowledge and discernibility means you could sell them a CD of fart noises and they’d go nuts for it. Being a huge fan of the likes of Blur, Radiohead and The Beatles, those bands have common links- their members united at a young age; going on to make music that scintillated the world- Radiohead are not done yet; they have more material in them. I bring up this issue because of Play Record Erase. Having met at Leeds Metropolitan University (last year), the quartet put together the group- they have been solidifying their ambitions, dreams and songs since then. Being a brand-spanking and fledgling act, they are putting together their first move- the sensational and packed New Colour. Privileged to my ears- and reviewers- only, the public will get to examine the E.P. in a couple of weeks. I will go into more depth (with regards the E.P.) in time; it is great to see bands coming together the honest way- with no ideals of corporatism and the lure of marketability. Modern acts such as Ivy & Gold and London Grammar met at university- the two acts share a lot of similarities- and it seems to be uncovering some of our most fervent and reliable musicians. I have a couple of short points to raise; for now, let me introduce my featured act:

Ben Holbrook on Vocals and Rhythm Guitar
Rachael Koszalinski on Lead Guitar and Backing Vocals.
Alex Taylor on Bass.
Joey Heaton on Drums

Play Record Erase, are a four-piece alternative rock band based in Yorkshire taking main influences from bands such as; Arcane Roots, Biffy Clyro and Muse. They formed in 2014 after meeting at Leeds Metropolitan University, where they all study Music Production. The line-up features Ben Holbrook on vocals and guitar; Rachael on lead guitar and backing vocals; Alex Taylor on Bass and Joey Heaton on Drums. Front man Ben Holbrook’s writing style is abstract and diverse, influenced by his love of Si/Fi and fantasy covering slow ballads to intricate heavy guitar riffs. The band have recently recorded their first EP, “New Colour” which follows the theme of an alien invasion on Earth. The EP release date is Thursday 28th August. They are currently performing a 45-min set around Yorkshire playing gigs with other bands/artists while creating a following, planning to get into Festival gigs by next year. Having not been formed for too long they have made a promising start into the music scene. Play Record Erase`s performance on stage is very balanced to compliment their songs. From foot tapping songs, complimented by nice bouncy vocals with rhythmic guitars and drums, moving into heavier riff based songs. The band’s performance throughout the set is great with their musical sound. Play Record Erase, from start to end are accompanied by perfectly matched performance in which they take you through a great journey of alternative rock.

Before I delve into the music of Play Record Erase, I am intriuged about their location and influences. Having been detached from Yorkshire for a few days- I have been reviewing London/Canadian acts quite a bit- I return to the heaving bosom of one of the world’s most vibrant and hard-working areas for music. Being a devoted fan and supporter of musicians like ISSIMO, Jen Armstrong and Annie Drury- some of the county’s sweethearts- there are a lot of great bands emanating from Yorkshire. Leeds is proving particularly striking and fertile. A smaller and less populous city than London, it is staggering just how many new artists are hailing from this wonderful place. Having never been to Leeds- or Yorkshire for that matter- I imagine there is something magical in the air (there); pixie dust sprinkled onto Starbucks lattes- that is the only explanation I can find. Whatever the reason- behind the near-mythological dominance of Yorkshire- it is only natural a stunning band like Play Record Erase have come forth. Being lucky enough to assess several bands (in a similarly infantile stage of development), it always staggers me just how confident and fully-formed their debut movements sound- so assured and direct. Most new bands- true of the mainstream- fumble and stutter about a bit; offer some sketchy and vague presentations- solidifying with age and experiemce. New music is such a competitive and packed market, it means new bands have to go in strong and determined- New Colour is a stunning and solid work (from some of Yorkshire’s sure-fire stars-of-the-future). With so many groups popping up around the U.K., Play Record Erase are certainly a group with a future ahead of them; on the evidence of their debut, they have a lot to offer music. Being influenced by some of my favourite bands- including Muse and Radiohead- I was fascinated to see how these idols found their way into the music (of the band). The quartet mingle male-female vocals with some harder-edged Grunge moments- drawing to mind the likes of Pixies. When more impassioned and anthemic, you can hear some of Muse’s magic. Radiohead embers burst through when the songs drive and captivate the mind; hints of Arcane Roots arrive when proceedings go into Post-Hardcore/Math-Rock avenues. The concoction of multifarious potions are stirred into a boiling pot (that is very much that of Play Record Erase)- the band are the bosses and are not the sum part of their influences. Taking heart and direction from some musical greats, the Leeds troupe simply use it as a starting block: employ some faint hints to augment and flavour their own distinct and homemade sounds. The results- as seen on their E.P.- are dramatic and thoroughly memorable. Having been immersed in recording the E.P.- they have told me it is like a baby to them- you know how much music means to them. I have been lucky enough to hear the tracks; the band do not want the songs falling into public hands until the release date- so much care and work has been put in, they do not want their efforts jeopardised and betrayed. They say Yorkshire is ‘God’s county’- his finest geographical and topologically creation. Having had a baring on the landscape- if you believe in religion and all its improbabilities- then the rolling hills and stunning landscapes have compelled the citizens; spiked the minds of young musicians (to make big strides). Gorilla Punch Radio and Braver than Fiction are two of my recent Yorkshire-based review subjects- between them they promise huge future movements. Tossing their hat into the ring, the songs Play Record Erase have honed (on New Colour) are among some of the most impressive of the year- able to caused excited whispers in the echelons of the music media; excite the tongues of the blog intelligentsia- pretty much f****** overwhelm the eager public. With all this being said, it is probably apt I get down to investigating the band of the hour.

Play Record Erase are stamping out their first fully-formed and realised moments. It is difficult to look back and see how they have progressed- given they are in their infancy. The most contextually apt thing one can do is to assess their current motions- which are stunning in their completeness and urgency. From the very first notes you are stood to attention; braced and tied to a chair- the immediacy and stunning power that radiates is intoxicating. Most bands come in with a slightly restrained and restricted sound- when you hear their debuts. Play Record Erase make sure New Colour grips you from the very start. The primal chest-beating declarations are amplified, augmented and expanded (upon)- its grip never relents; you are powerless to escape its shadow. I suspect that future releases will see the band continue down the same path; make sure they pack as much punch, ethanol and passionate grit into everything they do. Most bands- who would aim towards the heady and exhilarating- tend to lack clarity and focus- their music comes off as too insistent and eager. Little consideration is paid towards nuance and solidity; the empirical truth is that most acts tend to gamble aimlessly (at the start). The Leeds four-piece have taken the effort to ensure they marry the arresting and anthemic with detailed and controlled. There is never a sense that they have lazily put sounds together; been content to just throw in some heavy and hard notes- and hope for the best. Incorporating some elements (of their idols) they stir this alongside a very unique and particular voice. Few other bands compare- when it comes to sound- so it is going to be great to see the band flourish. With their songs seemingly made for stadiums, festivals and sweaty gigs; I fully expect them to ascend to the upper echelons. As I say, it is early days, but their sapling intentions are pretty damn intent- the guys are not here for the short-term. Their hydrochloric burns are those that mark the skin; they leave their impressions and hypnotise the senses. Across the twenty-or-so minutes (of New Colour) you are offered a myriad of diversions and possibilities- the band do not lazily stick to one particular theme and projection. Few acts take the trouble to add depth and layers to their music; make sure the listener is given a heap of information and colours. Play Record Erase set their stall out promisingly; they have managed to craft an E.P. that mixes Hard-Rock/Indie anthems with darker and Grunge-inspired jams; lighter and more elliptical swathes. That rich and diverse set of emotions means their E.P. will resonate with a wide range of listeners. In terms of their development and future potential- there are some signs of where they may be headed. After listening to New Colour, you sense the band have so much in their arsenal- capable of heading in any direction. I can see- future releases- containing some Pop-inspired moments; Folk avenues and softer moments- in addition to striking and fast-paced Rock jams. Their current evidence points towards a very promising future indeed.

If you are looking for any like-minded acts; any that have inspired Play Erase Record and their plight- there are a few that came to mind. The first act I will mention are Arcane Roots. An influence of the band, the new band are setting tongues wagging. Bolstered by Andrew Groves’s emphatic voice, the group inject Math-Rock force and variegated rushes into their tracks. In the live arena the band employ fractal fret-wrangling and pomp anthems. Quiet and more reflective moments sit with exposed songs like Hell and High Water– the group has such a range and sense of variation. The album Blood & Chemistry alerted critical minds. Shattering riffs and maturity sit alongside one another; bursting with originality and convulsive guitar hooks. Whilst not as electric as their 2011 E.P.- Left Fire– it does provide some delicate atmosphere. That insatiable blend of delicate and hell-fire makes the music of Arcane Roots such an explosive proposition. The invigorating instrumentation and angled drives may not hit the heady heights of Biffy Clyro; yet they have the potential to be big names of the future- still developing their sound and ambitions. The progressive tendencies of their music separate Arcane Roots aside from the competition- the unpredictable song structures really stick in your mind. Dynamic time shifts and signature alterations keep their music alive and alert. The band is just as comfortable when presenting slighter and distilled sound- as they are when raising their fists and pumping towards the heavens. In a way, Play Record Erase share similar personality traits. With packed and powerful vocals; sky-scraping and lofty riffs- the Yorkshire quartet have serious ambition and credentials. Whilst they incorporate fewer Math-Rock angles, that works in their advantage- their music is more universal and less divisive. Like Arcane Roots, our heroes ensure they mix elements and emotions together; they are confident and at home when letting the sound dip- and channeling their urgency into rousing and uplifting codas. Andrew Groves’s determined and mesmerising falsetto wail puts you in mind of some of the all-time greats. Ben Holbrook has a similarly captivating and staggering set of pipes- able to make every song sound elementary and completely energised. The sing-along choruses and catchy rhythms are another side of Arcane Roots- perhaps they do not do softer numbers quite as well. Play Record Erase do not present that many calmer and more reflective roots- it can be a murky and dangerous bog to swim in. When they do let their music downshift and temporise, they come up with some stunningly rounded and gripping moments- much stronger than Arcane Roots’ attempts. Arcane Roots are already being touted as successors to Biffy Clyro- not that they are done- and able to slipstream into their milieu. Being a band with such an impressive weight in their cannon, Play Record Erase seem capable of joining Arcane Roots to the big leagues- the sound the duo create are in-demand and much sought-after. Before I mention a run of (other) U.K. influences, there is an American band- that comes to my mind- in the form of Pixies. If I try to parallel Play Record Erase to a particular Pixies album, it would be Surfer Rosa. One of the band’s early works- and less appreciated efforts- it remains a masterpiece of ambition and conception. The sudden bursts of Pop melodrama and invigoration sit with Spanish-themed utterances; big and dark crawls- it is a cornucopia of music. Embracing left-field ideas and commercial endeavours, Surfer Rosa is one of the most rewarding and unsettling (of the band’s efforts). Beautiful brutality and striking guitar riffs make the music come alive- tracks like Brick is Red and Where is My Mind?  are among my favourite Pixies cuts. The compulsive and blazing polarisations stick in the mind. The band’s College-Rock collages see Flamenco snatches fuse with lighter and more redemptive Pop numbers. Haunting and personal introspections showcase mature and deep songwriting; upbeat and playful songs emphasise Pixies’ full potential- Surfer Rosa has influenced a huge amount of new bands. Play Record Erase have taken some of these motifs and ideals to heart. They can act playful and whimsical when the mood strikes; claustrophobic and strangled the next- the group do not rest on laurels or take any unnecessary risks. With such balanced and fully-rounded songs, they match Pixies for ambition and diversity- all backed by their pressing and enlivening sound. Like Pixies, the Leeds troupe employ prickly guitar barbed wire; propulsive percussion; sugar-and-sandpaper vocal mixes- strange fetishes are less abundant (but you feel like anything is possible). Instilled in the music are embers of Punk and ’80s less-is-more production values. Coupled with an innate ability- to create multicoloured theatre- Play Record Erase have some of Pixies’ distinct and impressive genes- it will be great to see how this is expanded and realised across future records. The Feud are a group that have made an impact on Play Record Erase. The band have been around for a while, yet have not reached their full potential- they have the same magic and potential as Does It Offend You, Yeah? The varied music tastes (the band possess) is enforced in their music- that energy and diversity shines. Heavy riffs and energised elements combine with melodic and catchy sing-alongs- the band enjoy and appreciate the Synth.-Pop music of the ’80s. The group inspire crowds to get crazy and rowdy; tap their feet and sing along. The band is one of the most popular new acts coming through; they have struck a chord with listeners and have a very popular sound- Play Record Erase have instilled these elements together (in their music). A band that are sure to inspire new listeners and fans, they have that same ability to get crowds swaying and dancing- touching bygone genres and mixing it into their melting pot. One of the most scintillating acts- when thinking of Play Record Erase’s sounds- is Muse. The Devon legends have inspired a lot of great bands- they themselves have been inspired by the likes of Queen and Radiohead. The best Muse-based albums- I can compare with New Colour– are Origins of Symmetry and Black Holes and Revelations. Those two albums saw Muse develop and evolve: the former was a leap from their debut; the latter is their finest moment. On Origins of Symmetry, there was a break from the pomposity of Prog.-Rock; the sizzling cuts like Plug In Baby and New Born marked the band out as epic contenders. It is not just the raw and unbeatable songs that lodge in your brain- their take on Feeling Good is a stunning reinterpretation; Micro Cuts is a distorted and quasi-operatic gem; Space Dementia is an intergalactic mini-epic. Matt Bellamy’s piano genius came to the fore- later to be developed and cemented on Absolution- and gave vivid life to the album’s finest moments. Although Muse created more grand-standing albums, they never sounded as intriguing and demented. Monolithic riffs and see-sawing percussion staggers see Bellamy indulge his inner-Thom Yorke: at a time in history where Yorke was fed up with his own voice- Bellamy puts his own over-the-top and over-extenuated stamp on that sound. Able to make the speakers get up and dance; make blood pour from the eyes- Origins of Symmetry remains a modern-day classic. Play Record Erase are less preposterous than early-days Muse- they manage to incorporate the band’s most worthy and universal charms. The emphatic and impressive vocals- Bellamy perfected- match Freddie Mercury power; Thom Yorke beauty and Roy Orbison-esque emotional quivers. Riffs and guitar considerations have that same blend of rifftastic-cum-restrained. Black Holes and Revelations remains one of my favourite albums- an audacious and huge statement from one of the world’s best bands. Knights of Cydonia is perhaps the best closing track on any album- that insatiable closing riff is enough to raise the dead! The album brings up issues like political strife, unjust wars; populist revolt- personal revelations come into effect. Whilst Play Record Erase do not contain the same overt political rage, they mix personal and introspective offerings with deeper and more universal themes- their music has similar potency and passion. Whilst some critics derided Black Holes and Revelations‘ lack of depth (and over-use of histrionics), you cannot deny how memorable and era-defining it is. Yes, there are overblown moments and bloated suggestions- by-and-large the album is taut, muscular and utterly divine. Glam, Pop and symphonic classic oeuvres are mixed with one another; the grand dramatics work wonderfully- it is a meticulous and complete album. Rock opera and layered guitars levitate songs; sultry and sexy swagger blends with razor-edge cut- the band are on an equal footing from start to finish. Play Record Erase employ similar considerations: they mingle sexy and smart; sassy and sharp; layered guitars and tight jams- each member has similar equity and influence on the numbers. When Black Holes‘ came along, the public realised what a huge Rock package it was- Americans were a bit dim and slow to absorb its magic- and retrospective reviews pay testament to this. The Leeds crew go to the same detailed lengths to ensure their music is as a full and nourishing as Muse’s- that detail and workmanship makes them such an incredible proposition. Continuing the British influences, Biffy Clyro should be mentioned. Like Muse; I will point to two influential and relevant albums: The Vertigo of Bliss is the first. Following on from a decidedly shaky debut- Blackened Sky– their follow-up was a huge leap forward. From the provocative and sexual album cover, the L.P. presented sublime inventiveness and thought-defying Rock parables. Anger and adoration are blended with authority and conviction; the band embody Indie sensibilities with Rock bliss- the album crackled with certainty and assuredeness. Inventive and haphazard rhythms tangle with awkward guitars- the album is fresh and live-sounding. Recorded over a single day, it is the sound of a band in their element- completely natural and without anxieties and hesitations. Play Record Erase present the same sort of live sound; the conviction and professionalism- their songs unite distinct guitar sounds with juddering drums; soaring vocals and sublimely atmospheric anthems. When Biffy released Opposites (last year) is was met with mixed reviews. Critics- who were positive- claimed how gripping the album was; its serenity and progressive ideologies made it sparkle and captivate; the special and varied songs resonated with critics- many were bowled over by the seismic riffs, hits after hits; the quirky edges and jagged avenues. Calibrating their intelligent brand of Rock; the band brilliantly switched between edgy and mainstream- Pop and Rock moments naturally seduced. The Scots’ take on Fugazi’s heady and mesmeric brand of song comes out in the album; they instill Nerd-Rock too- dichotomous discipline and crowd-pleasing recklessness make the album such a contrasted gem. The last British influence I will name is Radiohead. The quartet instill shades of Radiohead’s genius and staggering songwriting. In terms of albums- just to give you relatable examples- I would say The Bends and In Rainbows are the most pertinent examples. Having been named the most influential band of this generation- by N.M.E. readers- the Oxford legends have made an impression with a lot of modern acts. The Bends is my favourite album of all-time; it is the finest album in history- many can argue; many would be proven wrong. Defying expectations and marking a quantum leap- from the rather mixed results of Pablo Honey– it is an album that shaped music for the better. While Holbrook does not whip out the angst-laden falsetto (as much as Yorke)- he favours a more manly and chest-beating sound- he does possess the same sense of serene beauty and sensitivity. Not some Liam Gallagher-esque knucklehead, our man portrays his own unique blend of softer emotions- funneled through his distinct and striking tones. The band take bits of The Bends; sprinkle it into New Colour– creating some vibrant results. Play Record Erase take on board Radiohead’s cerebral brand of Rock; they turn clichés inside-out and make everything sound fresh and new- the way P.R.E. mingle complex instrumentations with mixed emotions stands them out. There is that undercurrent of melancholy and sadness; the abiding sense and feel is of a band that want to embrace and seduce the listener- take their mind somewhere unique. Like The Bends, In Rainbows came off as a huge surprise. Whilst most assumed nothing monumental would follow Pablo Honey; fewer predicted anything genius would follow on from Hail to the Thief– one of the band’s most underrated works. More complex- and less emotional- than The Bends, In Rainbows was a hugely well-received album. There were no wasted moments or ideas; each track is tight and nuanced- there was a otherworldy quality to proceedings. Abstract sounds and accessible words made the album a stimulating and tantalising treat- breathtaking beauty sat with raw and visceral moments. The studio performances came across as relaxed, assured and tight- the band sounded happy and in-step; gone were the anxieties of their post-OK Computer works. Play Record Erase sound as happy and together; that naturalness and tight set of performances comes across; the group mix beauty and radiance with something darker and more determined- they melt abstract angles with universal messages and thoughts. Although the scenic and colour-filled promise an album like In Rainbows puts through, there is an emphasis on romance and beauty. Even though words speak of comatosed nights, zombies, bodysnatcher, disease; suicide and pain are discussed- the core and beating heart looks at redemptive aspects and love. Words and lyrics worm their way into your mind- including the heartbreak line “I’m an animal trapped in your hot car“- and speak of universal experiences; there is emphasis on the songs- making sure they drive forward and do not lose their sense of loyalty. Play Record Erase have the skill and mentality that means they blend romantic endeavours with vivid and striking scenes; lyrics that stick in the imagination- complex and multifarious compositional elements; the complete shebang! The final band I will mention is Smashing Pumpkins– one of the darker and more shadowy influences. In terms of finding an appropriate Smashing Pumpkins album- to draw to New Colour– the best example is Siamese Dream. Perhaps a heady comparison- given many rank it alongside Nevermind in terms of scope and genius- it is the most apt album draw. Whilst Billy Corgan and his bald-headed oddity spawned some pretty terrible moments- albums after Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness ranged from great to God-awful- on their sophomore album they were inspired. The 1993 masterwork was synonymous with its slackers-with-a-vision charm. Less chemically castrated than a lot of their peers, Smashing Pumpkins’ fuzzed-up riffs were quite the match for Nirvana’s era-defining epic. Although Siamese Dream was created midst turmoil and broken relationships- like Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours- it contains some phenomenal music. Layers of guitars and sound collages sit with consistency and emphatic quality. Ranking alongside Nevermind and Superunknown– as one of the best Rock albums of the ’90s- it is rife with outright outre glisten. More grand than the sacrosanct underground Grunge acts- of the time- the cathedrals and monuments of guitar sounds stuck in the mind- Siamese Dream is a righteous and bold statement from the U.S. band. Play Record Erase make sure their music covers such wide and impressive ground; their guitar notes and layers are insatiably atmospheric and gripping; the consistency and quality is of the highest order- although they do not ascend the heights of Siamese Dream, they have rife ambition and intention. All of these influences can be heard in various moments (of New Colour) but should not be taken as gospel- I mention them to give you an overview. Play Record Erase have their own distinct and well-honed sound; their bond and uniformity is as a result of incredible friendships- the music pays paen to their natural sympatico and intuition.

Germane latency is not an option when you consider Rapture– its early notations are a symphony of intention and unbridled swagger. The guitars strut and sting; the percussion clatters and pervades- the bass guides and navigates. Instilled with a catchiness and unerring confidence, the track provides a contradistinction- few contemporaries lace their embryonic passages with such a fervent hustle. Perhaps appropriately, the first words- uttered by our hero- are “brace yourself.” Telling us our time has come, I get a sense- oddly- of Kurt Cobian. That inimitable delivery during In Bloom‘s verses- the slow and taunting back-and-forth- comes to fruition here. Delivered as a sermon-come-warning, the singer sets the scene- a nearing apocalypse is afoot. Not caring anymore; the revocation of strength leads to a blase and relaxed attitude- as the world crumbles and inflames; our hero is kicking back with aloof disregard. The composition ensures there is sonic fascination (throughout)- the guitars snarl and twist like a Pixies rapture; never too heavy or hard; underpinned with melodic intent. Few listeners will be uninitiated to the power and prowess of the music: it conjures myriad thoughts and themes; tempts and teases- spits out oodles of tantalising moments. Our man looks at “all distractions“; the chorus blooms and blossoms with a full-bodied vocal projection- mixing Foo Fighters, Muse and Arcane Roots. Like Devon’s whacky Prog. sons, the Leeds quartet are deftly able to weave in pathos and humour; brighter strings with more shadowy vocals- that contradiction and commingling adds layers to the track. Throwing so much into the mix, the listener is gripped by its passion and meaning. Human compassion is being eroded and subjugated; the noble crew are surveying a dilapidated landscape- the intensity and urgency in the vocal makes every word’s hair stand on end. Summoned with a blend of coolness and gravel, our hero does not explode or burst- he allows his voice to match and sit alongside the composition; it is well-paced and detailed. As the song reaches the 1:40 marker, a spine-tingling and animalistic guitar growl is unleashed; it weaves and bays for flesh; yawns with malice- vibrates and kicks with bravado. Marrying some of Nevermind-era Nirvana alongside Origins of Symmetry Muse, the band rustle up a hypnotic jam- imbuing it with their own unique and intuitive drama and identity. With a final throw of the dice, our hero lets his voice ring out. When controlled and muted, it is a dark and Grunge-influenced beast; laying in scenes of heartbreak, distraction and disconnection. As the chorus swings around, it expands and opens up- becoming more Indie/Prog.-inspired- showcasing his full range of emotions. As the gamut is run, the song never lets its grip go. It is a tight and muscular offering that never lingers too long; it packs such a punch in under 3 minutes- few acts have such a regard towards economy and length. Quite a startling and intent opening statement, you are primed and ready for what is to come. As the brain-seducing Wars of the Intergalactic Kind makes it way in, our hero is trying to read signs- unable to decipher them, he begins his travelogue with a heavy anxiety. Naivety and blindness are traded alongside double-blind bluff and a curiosity- the vocal deployments matches smooth and sensual with a spicier and more pressing soul. Whereas the opening number ending with a very distinct note- that reminded me of Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun– the progeny starts with more elliptical and nuanced workings. The guitars twiddle and notch; they twirl and spiral- the sound is a Morse Code marionette that has a spacey and cosmic beauty- backed by a pulsed and smashed guitar ellipses, and you get a rich and vibrant sound. “The war is on” is the elongated and pertinent coda; the clarion call and rally cry that precedes a bellicose compositional slam. Letting his voice regress and demure, the band take us into the stratosphere. A swaying and delirious parable is unleashed; it staggers and swaggers- once more- psychotropic and determined, it is a stonewall classic riff. The heady brew bashes the bones and stretches the brain; elastic and impassioned- there is no diaphanous escape to be found. Stadium-ready and kick-ass it matches an avalanche of fire with a tidal wave of hornets- it is the sort of frenetic and psychedelic head-f*** that is capable of healing the blind. Further diversity and subsumed brilliance is added with a Spoken Word passage. Acting as a news report -and urgent bulletin- the newscaster offers some stark messages. The creature-like humans are making demands; unsure what their demands are- updates will be forthcoming. Stepping into Muse’s 2001 clown-coloured size 14s is a brave endeavour indeed- the fact the band pull it off is deeply impressive. Not as all-out bonkers and pompous as Origins of Symmetry‘s most byzantine cuts- Space Dementia, Micro Cuts etc.- it has a feel of Citizen Erased. Mixing the charlatanism of Kabalarian Philosophy with overt operatics, the track is a blissful brain-melter. Our hero’s vocals coo and wordlessly seduce; change course and set up the decibel entourage- one that attacks and pillages with blood-lust intent. With fairly few words, the emphasis is placed on the composition and setting. The notes and guitar slams paint the picture and project the images; intergalactic riffs and snaking contractions keep the song rampant and unerring. Backed by an army assault of smashing percussions- and rythmic-cum-Kim Deal bass work- the band summon a Molotov Cocktail of potency- one that grabs you by the lapel and drags you into its dungeon. Grunge majesty- that the likes of Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana have solidified and synonymised- mixes with spectral Indie touches- the combination seduction dance is an unexpected and mesmerising treat. You can tell how much thought and consideration has been paid to the composition- and song as a whole. It does not lazily play and wander; the riffs and parables are delineated with a perfectionism that is hard to find; the emphasis is on mood and fervency- it is a delicious and salacious outpouring that enthralls and overthrows. Suitable for the Sunday night majesty of the festival circuit, it is the sort of song that could rouse thousands of fans into a delirious frenzy. Conflagration and disturbed robotics come into play; twisted and technological electronics give the song an eeriness and strange charm- after the smash-and-grab bait-and-switch; the song evolves into something more crepuscular and menacing. Subverting expectations, your despondent senses are left to try to redress the aural genocide- Wars of the Intergalactic Kind take no prisoners alive. As the conclusionary moments show yearning and lupine strings play, you catch hints of Pearl Jam and Radiohead- snatches of Ten and The Bends fuse in a riot of celebration and lust. Offering some updates and news flash, our hero looks at the emergency unfolding- his voice has a heaviness and breathiness (that shows appropriate fatigue and exhaustion). The skies are beckoning some killer intruders; the human race is looking up nervously- gotta defend our lives against the invading space warriors. Not done with his missive, our hero has got to “escape this Earth“; get away and find interplanetary consolation. Before we are all brought down, a plan needs to be formulated- you can feel the wrath growing hotter and heavier. With one final kick of the jams, the band offer a concise and tight swan-song- a brief Spoken Word presentation wraps things up and we are done. Following a 1-2 of songs- that have offered so much force, fascination and epic-ness- Heart of Gold provides chance for calm and reflection. Still absorbing the staggering sounds- that have come before- the ebullient and gorgeous burble of the intro. has romantic longing- a bargaining chip against the oppressive forces of rapture and intergalactic warfare. Sun-kissed and echoed vocals have a tranquility and headiness to them- our hero sound far-off and floating. Sounding like he is singing underwater (or inside a vacuum), the serenity and riparian flavours match Folk and Pink Floyd-esque Art-Rock sounds. Never straying from the reliable and tested avenues of space and otherworldliness, the band take their mind into softer and floating territory- the opening moments are a paragon of somnamubulistic luster. Just as you are bedding in for a dreamy sojourn, the composition elevates and ramps up- the same sort of tee-up that beckoned in Gigantic‘s Pixie dust assault. Our hero looks at his sweetheart; someone who wanted more- she has caused him some tribulation and discombobulation. Perhaps declarations are not pained and as wracked- as one might first assume. With her “heart of gold“, the heroine is being given an appropriate amount of dedication and tribute- it seems here is someone who gives more than anyone else. The song’s title is repeated like a manta: with an upbeat and urgent projection, you can hear the breeze and soulfulness in our hero’s voice- he seems less closeted and scared than in previous numbers. As the percussion showcases some cymbal softness and (austere and authoritative measurements); the bass possesses melody, rhythm and heart- the guitar sounds trade wooziness and dexterity. Mingling Pink Floyd’s most ethereal moments (of The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here) you are powerless to resist their charm. After the calmed and restrained openings, the song burnishes and burns with fury- the guitars conduct their business with righteous vengeance. Of course, the song has its loins in romantic quarters- there is no repression or fury here. The swell and lust of the guitars does not scare or fend off- it catches you with its grace and power. Displaying an unending amount of urgency and grip, the band unite in one of their tightest performances. Backed by the band’s heroine, the vocals are given an extra layer of beauty- as they combine to utter the song’s central message. Juddering guitars and anthemic bursts crackles and swell with elliptical pride; the final moments leave a smile on your face- the song’s brevity and insatiable passion leaves you wanting more. Into the second-half, Asymmetry has an ironic title- the song leads with the same pugnaciousness and intention as Rapture. Perfect counterparts and cultural attaches, the two possess the same drive and teeth- here proceedings are even more ramped-up and violent. The composition is a white-hot and lascivious thing- it swings its testicles with scant regard for ethics and refined desire. Pummeling and atmospheric, the mingling of Muse and Nirvana strokes is sprinkled into Play Record Erase’s unique and cultured veneer. Calming and taking the volume down, our hero approaches the mic. Mystique and obliqueness see our man proclaim “We’ve been here before“- my initial impressions turned towards love and a broken bond. Maybe the lovers have been together before- and ended things- and the partnership is not quite as equal (as it should be). Maybe in two different spaces, the distinct lovers are playing things on different plains- the conviction and passion in the vocal performance is among the E.P.’s most gripping. Our hero declares he is caught on the outside; you get pictures percolating and spinning. Backed by a howling and fighting riff, our man is backed by our heroine- the two unite on the vocals to give the track a beautiful two-handed quality. Our frontman’s mind seems weighted and pained; you can tell just how burdened he seems to be- the endlessly compelling performance does not overthrow this assumption. A sense of mystery and openness comes into effect; the lyrics have a quality that means they can be interpreted in different ways- each listener will have their own interpretation of events. Squalling guitars arrive to inject some Grunge fury; the burbling and thunder-storm vibrations give the song snap and crackle. When the words “Was it worth it?” are repeated- by both singers- you wonder what is being referred to. Maybe someone has been cheating and fooling around; being dishonest and disloyal- the amount of punch and underpinned anger (that is projected) makes you think things have come to a head. The voices blend with one another; that message keeps on being repeated- another thunderous burst arrives (as we see our players caught on the outside); your mind becomes a centrifuge of what-ifs and possibilities. As the track comes to an end, you wonder how things worked out- whether negotiations and common voice is arrived at; if things are too fractured and ill to recover and mend. It is great to hear Asymmetry (Acoustic) as it presents a different take on the track- a more reflective and acoustic-led gem. Funky and springing guitars levee the track in; the bass twangs and reverberates with intent. The lyrics and words have a little more clarity to them; the rush and passion of the composition- on the previous number- sometimes overpowered the intelligibility and focus of the vocals. In a soothed and less cluttered environment, you get a more direct and unfettered performance. The beauty of the vocals is very much present; the composition is less determined and overpowering- new contours and dimensions are revealed and uncovered. As entranced and committed to the vocals- and the messages- as you are, it is the strings that compel the mind; that jumping and plash sound is as catchy and committed (as anything else on the E.P.). Showing a more Jazz and Acoustic sound, the song reveals new depth. The ‘original’ is a spellbinding and unforgettable number- the fact the band decided to re-record it shows just how much the song resonates with them. Adding new light and energy into its story, the skiffling and itinerant composition keeps pressing. Our hero’s voice is purer and more impassioned- refraining from the tendency to lift to the heavens with anger. Demonstrating how competent, assured and natural the band are in the live setting, the song has multiple distinctions: it gives fans a chance to hear what they would sound like in intimate venues; how adaptable they are as performers and composers; witness the nuances and depths of Asymmetry. Finger-picked notes and static strums nestle with beautiful and aching strings; the percussion beats like a heart- the community of notes provided is harmonious and deeply exhilarating. When that coda- “Was it worth it?“- is re-appropriated, the duo- of singers- give it a new skin and wardrobe; more romanticised (than spited) you are gripped by the tranquility and power that melt together. In addition to the tracklisting being spot-on and perfectly thought-out, the album’s acoustic numbers- and final moments- are beautifully sequenced. The band do not allow a pause between the two acoustic numbers- the tracks flow into one another splendidly. Like Queens of the Stone Age did on Rated R; The Beatles did on Abbey Road (Side B), here the run-on leads to a constant energy and mobility. Showing they can present and elicit as much power and curiosity when wielding acoustic guitars- as an arsenal of electric ones- the Leeds band ensure the E.P. ends with a softer and more lullaby-inspired duo- after the hailstorm and biblical vengeance of the opening cuts. For We Are Old begins with a catchy and swooning introduction; there is Jazz and Folk elements- it sounds almost like a slowed-down version of the intro. to Just (by Radiohead). Perfectly priming the senses, the graceful and serene tenderness gets into your mind. The vocal here elongates words and stretches sentiments; rather than going for out-right urgency- here a different perspective is offered. Our hero is looking at a subject; seeing if they can see (him) on the other side; “the other side where there is no light.” Falling in line and posing some tough questions, our man is breaking his neck- just looking around. There is some sly humour and wit instilled within the spiked heels of the song’s core; that counterbalance of sharp and sweet makes you smile as well as reflect. Endlessly gripping and flowing, the strings are once more deliciously intriguing and assured. Advising his cohort- or perhaps himself too- to stay inside; it is the only way to say (if they’re still alive). The vivid images and cinematic scenes flood into your brain; as the percussion and strings augment and swell, the song becomes more intense- ensuring its conclusion is as memorable as its beginnings. With an aching wordless vocal line- yearning and romantic- the leads combine in voice; beautifully sparring and making the shivers arrive. It would be great to hear the track expanded and presented (as a Asymmetry-esque number)- add symphonic aspects and layer it a bit. The band showed how great Asymmetry is- as a ‘studio’ cut- and how wonderful it could sound as a live cut. In that same sense, one could envisage the track earning new stripes and glory- were it afforded the chance to be treated and given its bilateral aspects (a chance to shine). Having witnessed six very different songs, you are desperate to hear more- the E.P. leaves the mouth watering. I can very well imagine For We Are Old making its way onto a future disc- as an all-out assault. So many possibilities and opportunities await the band; on the evidence of such an emphatic and endlessly fascinating E.P.- the future is very much theirs.

Usually when an album, E.P. or song has a particular score- a 9.0-9.5- I have a certain amount of things I can say; the paragraph is middle-lengthened. The fact that I have judged New Colour as a 9.7 means I have a lot to say- it is such an impressive work. Before I get down to highlighting the individual band members, it is worth applauding the E.P. in its own context. Able to cause nominal aphasia and stunned silence, it is one of the most immediate and stunning records of the year. Music is designed to heal the mind and inspire listeners. In a week where the world has witnessed tragedy- that has affected everyone- we are need some comfort and assurance. That feeling of loss and tragedy will eventually dissipate; what it leaves behind (and how it affects people) will not- our minds and collective souls desire something redemptive and nourishing. If records like New Colour arrive regularly, then there is little chance for sadness or too much reflection. Being gripped from the very infant moments, the E.P. surprised and shocked me. I was not expecting something so immediate and mesmeric (from such a new band)- only releases by Allusondrugs, Reverend Moon and Little Sparrow have surpassed it all year. I know how hard the quartet have worked on the songs; how proud they are- and rightfully so. The sequencing and production is splendid. When the numbers are harder and heavier, the production is polished (but fairly lo-fi)- it allows the tracks a chance to pervade and shine. Imagining it has been co-helmed by Gil Norton and Nigel Godrich, it fuses the best elements of Pixies and Radiohead- the combinative atmospherics and cinematic sounds. When the acoustic numbers arrive, nothing is buried and burnished- the notes are crisp and clear. Reminding me of Jeff Buckley’s Live at Sin-e album- recorded in 1993- there is an intimacy and closeness that draws the listener in. Many would imagine those disparate sounds are not conducive with harmony- how wrong you would b!. If the acoustic numbers had been placed between Rapture and Wars of the Intergalactic Kind, then the E.P. would have suffered- the pace and urgency would have been uncoupled and disturbed. The heavier and harder numbers arrive in the first half- the second half is more reflective and acoustic-led. It means the mind is bursting and hypnotised at the start; by the middle the soul is inflamed and nourished; the last two tracks grant fulfillment and light to the heart- such is the emotional considerations, you cannot help but be besotted by the E.P. It has plenty of nuance and repeatability- tracks will reveal new elements on future spins. Perfect for the darker and colder days -as the summer nights- there is a huge mix of sounds and genres. The eccentric and unheard-of genius of Wars‘ will appeal to those who yearn for Muse’s halcyon days- when they galvanised their brilliance and seemed unstoppable. This track is probably one of the most distinct and memorable I have heard this year; Rapture has a similar brilliance and hard-hitting attitude- drawing in Grunge heroes like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins; a smattering of Radiohead and Muse. Most bands- who are experts at anthemic jams- are less effective when calmed and romantic- the likes of Arcane Roots and Foo Fighters come to mind. Play Record Erase have more in common with Nirvana and Pixies. On albums like Nevermind- with Polly- and Doolittle; you get some reflective moments of beauty- passion and Pop moments take your breath. The Leeds band’s soliloquies of grace and wit are just as splendid and rich as their fire-fueled wig-outs. Not only does this make their debut such a huge treasure- it bodes well for the future. Showing they’re as authoritative when in acoustic realms- as in the throes of wild warfare promise- the band are adept at mixing genres and sounds into a complete whole. Being a tight and focused E.P., the quartet not only spread their wings- at six tracks it has more tracks than most E.P.s- but remain concise and teasing- no song lingers too long and stretches needlessly. In addition to some masterful producing, programming and mixing- it is the band performances that make the music so alive. Lyrics mix themes of apocalypse and alien invasion- kooky and intergalactic themes that few bands tend to tread. Do not think that we have a Muse-worshiping copycat band here- our heroes nod their head coolly and simply provide their own take on space and war. Able to convincingly compel when speaking of love and reflection, the band show just how much of a range they have- never dropping a step whatever they are documenting. This motility and multifariousness spills into compositional avenues- even more so! Kudos much firstly be levied towards Ben Holbrook. The singer and rhythm guitarist injects so much light and power into the sextet of songs. His vocals never succumb to the histrionics and screeching of Matt Bellamy. Composed and emotive, Holbrook has a distinct and unique set of pipes that means he is a master of overt emotion and dread- as he is when introspective and romantic. Few singers sound at home when they allow themselves such a wide breadth. On songs like Rapture and Wars‘ you get a bona fide leader and corporal- someone who unleashes so much atmosphere and desire. Making sure the listener believes every word- some get pretty out-there and surreal- that is no mean feat; he is able to do it with an apparent ease. Towards the E.P.s final moments- combining with his female cohort- you get a side of beauty and tenderness. Allowing his emotional and touching side to come out, you get the full picture of the young singer. When letting his guitar pervade and hunt, he unleashes a huge amount of stun and ability. Providing perfect support to the lead guitar, so much rhythm, direction and story is offered. Holbrook shows just what a multi-talented player he is; able to elicit so many different sounds and sensations. When it comes to talented, Rachael Koszalinski is certainly on an equal footing. Her vocals add so much beauty and passion to certain moments. Sorry to hark on about Pixies, but the way Kim Deal augments and enlivens songs- listen to their back-catalogue and find out why Pixies suck so much now- Koszalinksi is an essential vocal force- on the acoustic numbers he contributions are sweet and endlessly impressive. Combining naturally and seamlessly with Holbrook, the two make an incredible duo- I hope they blend voices (more) on future discs. As a guitarist she is in a league of her own. In a music scene that is still male-dominated- especially bands- our heroine shows she is as good as her male colleagues. Being a fan of guitarists- in new music- like Carmen Vandenberg, Koszalinski is a valuable asset (to the band)- I can think of few other axe-grinders that have such an ability. The guitar-wielding wonder manages to draw in a host of other names. When intergalactic and robotic, I catch elements of Jonny Greenwood and his OK Computer period- listen to the twisted and distorted moments on Paranoid Android and Subterranean Homesick Alien for a start- and you can hear bits of Koszalinski. She is capable of evoking images of alien conversation and starship warp-drive; robot war plans and starlight fire- in addition to more grounded and common forces. Swaggering, spitting, sexual and gritty; she has the power of a Grunge band leader; plenty of melody, rhythm and Pop-influenced sounds come out- her kaleidoscopic abilities come to fruition throughout New Colour. By no means second in nature is Alex Taylor. The bass bad-ass manages to shift and snake with effortless acclaim; shimmering and driving, he is the backbone of the band. Providing guidance and leadership, his bass makes each song crackle and spark. When we hear acoustic numbers, it is that bass which sticks in the mind- capable of bubbling and skipping with Jazz-like cool; stinging like a suburban viper; few others match his skills and prowess. Able to unleash reverie and delirium, you can always hear Taylor working away- inspired by the likes of Chris Wolstenholme (of Muse), Colin Greenwood (of Radiohead) and D’arcy Wretzky (Smashing Pumpkins), you hear a possible future match. If you listen to the stunning bass work of The National Anthem (from Kid A) and Hysteria (on Absolution) then you can hear they had an effect on Taylor. Elements of Flea’s best work- his performance on Coffee Shop– come out; able to be stunning and hypnotic in the harder and rampant moments- Taylor is equally assured when adding sensual swoon and tongue-licking passion. Completing the quartet is the sticks guardian, Joey Heaton. Having been in contact with him- the band’s conduit for reviews and publicity- I have been taken aback by his passion and protectiveness. You know how much the songs mean to him (and the band) and what an effort has been put in- his performances are universally potent and memorable. Especially impressive on the E.P.’s first two tracks, Heaton does not merely smash and pummel with a dead-eyed gaze- he has a talent and a sense of ambition few others possess. Capable of summoning the bare-chested power of the Grohls and Pearts of the music word- he has an ear for melody, composure and nuance. Infusing some tricky and eye-catching fills into particular moments; changing speed and course during tracks- his thoughts are always committed (to ensuring a track is) as fascinating and gripping as possible. Propelling the band and presenting his full potential; it does cause recumbent sweat. The entire band play with such a kinship and understanding- with the confidence and togetherness of a group with ten times their experience. Each song is so tight and incredible; it is a shock these four mates have been jamming for so short a time- their confidence and talents will grow as the years go by. It means you should keep your eyes focused on the Leeds quartet; a group that have a huge future- grab their E.P. as soon as it comes out. In a week that has seen one of the world’s legendary humans fall- to a horrible and lonely disease- I have been looking around for balm and reassurance; something that tells me everything will be okay- music is providing a maternal shoulder and means of distraction. Hunting around new music, you will find few acts that have such an effect- as Play Record Erase. If you are in need of lift, surprise- and songs that rouse the spirits and contort the imagination- ensure you make a date to snap up New Colour.

Still under wraps and sub rosa; the boys (and girl) of Play Record Erase are excited to unveil their debut E.P. New Colour– it is an entrancing and solid record that demands close investigation. Having formed a matter of months ago, it has been impressive how much ground (the band has covered) in such a short time. Formed from solid foundations- a shared appreciation of music and one another- that sense of unity and tightness is evident in every song. Drawing in elements of Muse, Radiohead and Pixies what you get is a fascinating and nuanced collection of tracks- signalling pure intent and heady ambition. The quartet have a lot more to do and say; you can imagine many more albums and E.P.s arriving from them- their debut signs are incredibly encouraging and prosperous. It is always terrific to see bands come through in general; so much variation and intrigue is proffered by new music’s finest- whatever style and genre floats your boat; there is something for you. With that level of competition being so high, the survival and mortality rates tend to be low. You can always tell when a band are going to fail: it may be a few years down the line; the first impressions hint at imminent entropy and decay. Those that stick in the imagination; offer something different and resonate hard- Play Record Erase are a band with a solid and defined sound. When emailing the band- particular drummer Joey Heaton- you get a sense of how much music means to them. So much work and effort has been expended when putting New Colour together- it has been a hard to get where they have; a lot of sweat and blood has poured out. It is the passion and heart that you can hear in the music- which makes their E.P. such a treat. Were the results patchy and hit-and-miss, you would feel for them- the fact they are resounding and emphatic should ease a burden from them. The band have some work to do in the future (and will look to evolve and galvanise their sound)- there is ample evidence to suggest they will go onto to do some incredible things. Just looking at some of my review subjects- like Crystal Seagulls and The Bedroom Hour- tells you all you need to know. Two bands with a similar bond and unity have managed to make some serious impressions and movements- festival dates and huge gigs. It is not luck or privilege- that has ensured this occurs- it is the quality of the music and the determination that has earned them rewards. Play Record Erase are among the hungriest and most passionate bands about- there is no logical reason to suggest they will not ascend to the same creative plains. I am sure the Leeds quartet are going to want to keep their feet planted- remain realistic- and focus on the coming months. It is clear the New Colour E.P. will gain a lot of support and acclaim- you are compelled and hooked after the first 30 seconds. What left is there to say? Well… it is great to see the university friends commingle with such a naturalness and intuitive flair- it as though they were designed to make music together. Leeds has produced another gem; it is seriously marking itself out as one of the world’s hotbeds for new music- I am loathed to formulate reasons behind this; they just have a knack for producing fine musicians. Before I conclude, I want to raise a final point: that concerns the British music scene. As I look out at artists La Roux and FKA twigs- they are just a small snapshot of what the country is producing. Both bold and arresting female talents, their music surveys love, broken relations and personal testaments- the sheer force and urgency they offer has been seducing critics and intoxicating listeners. Our bands are producing pretty spectacular results. Of course, not all animals were created equally: there are plenty of bum-note bands that are there to fill the gaps- the ones that linger in the mind are showing just what Britain is capable of. So much interesting and diverse music is being offered- by new musicians- that means the next year is going to be interesting indeed. With the Yorkshire mafia supporting its artists; making sure they get their rightful acclaim- it is hard to imagine Play Record Erase having a quiet 2015. New Colour bristles with imagination and potency; that fusion of styles and sounds- all topped off with a thick crust of conviction and passion. Make sure you snap the E.P. up- in a couple of weeks- take time to absorb the work of one of Leeds’ new wonders; a band that are keen to make some rather large footsteps- it looks like they could very well make that happen. Being depressed by the large swathes of manufactured and bubble wrap bands coming out, I always yearn to find something genuine and authentic- a group that understand the importance of a real sound and a real friendship. Do what you can to support Play Record Erase; share their music and messages (when the E.P. is released) and watch them very closely. Here is a four-piece that want to seduce and recruit (as many supporters to their cause as is possible). Make sure you do one thing…

PUT it near the top of your ‘to-do’ list.

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Track Review: RKZ (Ft. Shawn Sanderson)- Think Of Me

(Featuring Shawn Sanderson)

Think Of Me


Think Of Me feat. Shawn Sanderson (prod. Handbook x Gifted The Great)

Think Of Me is available from:

Shawn Sanderson (@ShawnSanderson)

Handbook (@Handbook) and Gifted The Great (@GiftedTheGreat)

5th August, 2014

The album Science X Soul is available from 21st August, 2014:


Rap, R ‘n’ B, Soul, Hip-Hop, Spoken-Word, Pop


One of the country’s rising stars, RKZ unveils another startling track.  With long-term collaborator Shawn Sanderson adding seductive allure, Think Of Me is a sparkling gem.  Yet another fascinating piece of the Science X Soul puzzle has been placed.


HAVING interviewed RKZ very recently it…

gave me the chance to explore a distinct and phenomenal talent. Not only a fine and never-ending musician, the philanthropic talents of the mercurial artist left me somewhat shocked- and questioned my own personality and commitments. Inspiring me to do more and branch out, the Luton-born artist caused something of an about-face (in me). I will introduce him to you in a minute; for now, will raise one particular point. When looking at the musicians coming through; the various options and shades that are presenting themselves- there is a heady and unstoppable wave of choice available. Every style and sensation of music is represented by a myriad of different acts. It is great that there is so much ambition and fervency in the music industry; financial and social limitations are not scaring artists away- finding the finest and most distinct acts is quite a challenge. It is a subject I have beat around a lot; for today, I am concerned with personality and responsibility. I am all for musician coming through and pressing as hard as they can; making their music as impactful as they can- there is little diligence and respect beyond the boundaries of music itself. As the next week sees me embark upon a my most daunting- and exciting- project, it makes me wonder about musicians on the current scene. My business brain is setting up companies; designing a London-based music bar/cafe; an all-encompassing music website; huge initiatives- all designed to benefit musicians and struggling artists; funneling profits into the pockets of the most hungry and worthy. Not that I am bigging myself up; it just seems that few are taking the necessary time to expand horizons and consider the larger community. RKZ impressed me with his ethics and morals; his innate and unstoppable drive towards helping people- his ambassadorial work for mental health causes impressed me hugely. Before I divulge more into RKZ’s particularly striking brand of humanitarianism, I have been compelled to judge and assess the musicians of the modern scene. Those that win the biggest plaudits and retain the largest number of supporters, are those that push beyond defined and rigid boundaries- ensure that they take the time to consider the world at large. I am not saying every new act needs to donate time to charitable causes and collaborative endeavours- there should be more of it. Few acts take the trouble to use their position and status to effect real change; get under the skin of society’s problems and attempt to make a difference. Music is a device and art form that can mediate disputes; temporise and calm anxieties; lift the mind and nourish the body- its power and huge influence cannot be denied. When considering this, you wonder why more musicians do not unify music- and their sounds- with the community; those in the most need of revival and help. RKZ is one of the busiest and more considerate musicians in the world. Knowing how hard modern life is; what the street offers youngsters; the stresses and depression that can be seen behind closed doors- he is not standing by and letting it continue unabated. Acting as a spokesperson and representative for C.A.L.M., the young maverick is among the most considerate musicians about. Before I continue on my point; and give more insight into RKZ, let me introduce him to you:

RKZ (pronounced ‘Ricks’) is a singer-songwriter, rapper and Spoken Word artist from Luton, England. He began his career in 2009 as a rapper before gradually developing his skills as a singer, Spoken Word poet and writer. His musical style is considered a fusion of alternative R&B, Neo-Soul and Hip Hop. Aged 24, RKZ has already released several singles, four mixtapes and three EPs to date with a fifth mixtape, Science X Soul, scheduled to release in 2014. He has been playlisted on radio stations including BBC (Radio 1, 1Xtra, 3 Counties, Radio 4, 6 Music and Asian Network), KISS and Bang Radio, and has performed nationwide – from acoustic venues such as The Water Rats and Hoxton Bar & Grill to festivals including T In The Park, Reading, Leeds and BBC London Mela. He is currently preparing the release of his fifth mixtape, Science X Soul, and debut LP, Wanderlust. In 2012, RKZ was announced as Ambassador for CALM. The charity aims to reduce the suicide rate with young men in the UK, particularly London. Suicide catalysed by depression and stress is the single biggest killer of young men aged 15 to 35 in the UK. RKZ is a prominent writer and regularly contributes to CALM’s website and monthly CALMzine, where he touches on topics including depression, society and youth culture. He has self-published an online series called #MotivationalProse, which is dedicated to instilling a positive mentality and outlook in the youth of today. He also contributed to Hip-Hop blog, Sampleface, as a music reviewer before becoming the Head of UK Content in 2014. RKZ – who is slowly becoming a jack of all trades – has directed all of his music videos since 2011. He has gone on to direct music videos for artists including Cashtastic, Skott Summerz, Preeya Kalidas and more. He also produced video content for emerging arts talent platform, Be Discovered, which featured artists including Shakka, Little Simz, Tawiah, Chasing Grace, Jasmine Solano, MeLo-X, Little Nikki and more.

His forthcoming Science X Soul is going to be one of this year’s most urgent and impressive releases all year. On August 21st, the public will be given a chance to witness one of the country’s most promising and essential acts. It is not just charitable considerations that mark RKZ out as a distinct and noble talent- the music on offer is among the most fascinating and compelling about. I will touch more on this below; his latest cut- the second song to be taken from Science X Soul– is a gorgeous and fantastic representation of what his forthcoming mixtape offers. If you look back at RKZ’s career, you can see how busy he has been. Not contented to produce a string of solo releases, he has collaborated with a range of different artists- including Think Of Me co-conspirator Shawn Sanderson. The London-based rapper’s personal prosody and style has marked him aside from his contemporaries- the way he fused Spoken Word, Rap and Hip-Hop together has salivated the lips of many critics. Music fans and appreciators are flocking to hear all that RKZ can offer- this year will see the release of an album (in addition to his mixtape). It is clear that momentum, drive and potential is on our hero’s side- more ambitious and busy than ever, it will not be that long until RKZ is a name synonymous to most. I will delve into his music soon, but will end with one point: fusions of genres. Mixed results occur when solo acts- bands as well- experiment with sounds and infuse various genres into one- the most successful examples have produced some stunning results. There seems to be a split occurring in music: acts that do not bother to melt sounds together; those that do and fail miserably. Not naming specific people; there are too many artists that lazily fuse sounds together; do not take the trouble to be original or define their ambitions. A lot more do not even bother at all- they are content to merely present one particular sound. If you can nail and hone a particular genre, then there is less need to experiment and tamper; those that are fresh to music should always consider expanding their designs (and instilling something unexpected). RKZ is an artist that does not simply present R ‘n’ B the same way as fellow acts; incorporate Rap with little consideration towards distinction. His music not only draws in genres as diverse as Spoken Word and Soul; the way he projects these disparate themes has showcased just what a talent he is. Science X Soul will prove just what I mean: demonstrate that seamless and natural voice; an artist who is not willing to be the same as anyone else. If you are new to RKZ; unfamiliar with his music and work, then Think Of Me is a good starting place. When I witnessed Still Oceans– the first release from the mixtape- I was staggered by the layers and sounds that emanated forth; the stunning mix of still and urgent- it is a song that rattles around your head and begs for fond investigation. Think Of Me expand this further and takes the listener in another direction- an honest and tender love song, it expounds how spirituality and togetherness is as vital as sexuality and physical contact (with regards a complete bond). It will be fascinating to see what other treasures Science X Soul contains; whether excursions into Hip-Hop are more prominent than soulful ballads- with RKZ that sense of unpredictability is what makes him so impressive. What is for sure is the quality will be right up there; build on his past work and showcase a new flair and passion.

To get a proper and full understanding of RKZ’s present movements, it is worth dipping back and investigating what has come before. Looking at his music- in ascending order- is Superstars. Released over a year ago, it is one of RKZ’s early cuts. The artist has released tracks before (Superstars); here is a brave and fully-rounded documentation of a hungry performer. Featuring Shawn Sanderson, it is a perfect and scintillating slice. Perpetuity of intrigue defines the track- it bubbles and seduces from the very first notes. The distinct and beautiful vocals blend wonderfully together; it is a psychotropic and heady brew that gets into your heart and soul. Broken and closed minds are assessed; our hero looks at ruined egos and disreputable sorts- his delivery is fast-paced and determined. Showing some early promise, the song houses great contrasts and contradictions. Sanderson’s ethereal and angelic sexiness pairs beautifully with RKZ- the two unite harmoniously to create some incredible moments- Sanderson’s repetition of “break it down” is particular stirring and effective. Sharp and direct vocals are married with atmospheric and potent beats- it is one of RKZ’s finest early numbers. All Through The Night saw the continuation of the collaborative spirit. With the vocals of Sian Thomas on board, the soft and gentle introduction puts the listening in relaxing territory. Less inflamed and spiky than previous offerings, the subtle and lush strings mix with atmospheric and uplifting electronics. The piano notes are elliptical and teasing; sensual and still, they get inside of your mind. Stuttered, choppy and discordant snatches are layered in; the volume is increased and repressed- a disconcerting and head-spinning production gives the track a mesmerising feel. Our hero is loving through the night; his sexy and loverman skin houses a beating heart. Investigating a particular girl- someone whose man is not treating her with huge respect- is in his mind. Feeling he would be a better option, RKZ investigates a broken love- when the boy is letting the ball drop. Fast and frantic rapping gives the song a relentless attack (that defines the words)- the conviction and urgency sparks through with sheer conviction. Mingling sensuous delivery with heartfelt words, you root for our hero- hope that he achieves satisfaction. Earnest, thoughtful and lush, the track is a great development- a different side to the musician. Namaste acted as a prelude to the SOULar E.P. A haunted and anxious track; there are echoes and ghostly reverbs (from the start). Crackling and spitting beats fuse Trip-Hop of the ’90s with Hip-Hop of the early-’00s. Hard and edgy delivery considerations ensure the song has a restless and punchy pace; the delineation and projection speed mutates and changes throughout. Intelligent and memorable lyrics are scored by our hero- he is seeing stars with his eyes open; a visionary of sorts. Pallid and ice-cool atmospherics link into the track’s endless flow- the scattershot delivery and incredible lyrics ensure the song continues its charm offensive. The SOULar E.P. saw another step forward for RKZ. One of his finest works, it mixes so many styles and scenes together. Songs look at soulful and full-bodied deliveries; scintillating beats and electronic snatches provide urgency and danger. Elements and influences of Prince come to play; silky and developed songs fuse Soul lust with Hip-Hop freestyle- the E.P. contains a wealth of richness. Open beats and stylish production showcases an adventurous and ambitious cut- the changes in directions subvert expectations and offer a galore of surprises. Collaborative vocals and multiple vocal tones give the collection richness and variation; the lyrics and compositions are terrific throughout- the E.P. is expertly and terrifically crafted. After this insatiable and near-genius offering, RKZ released some prime and tantalising slices. Favourite Song sees our hero with the world on his shoulders- less soulful than previous offerings, the Rap assault is back. Sounding like a Spoken Word publication, the poetic delivery reminds me of Kate Tempest- a British rapper with an incredible talent. The emotional relentlessness gets inside of your brain; captivated by the juddering and spectral elements, it is a terrific and proper tune. Cool, catchy and carnivorous linger in the notes- it is a song that offer so much. A Song To Drink Tea To has clattering and lo-fi beginnings. Retro and late-night longing, the song augments and expands. The intrigue builds with a silky and serene vocal. The lyrics are captivating and deep; intelligent and quotable, the philosophical projections are stunning. Developing his pen, the track shows another bound forward- more inquisitive and striking than early days, RKZ shows a confidence and sense of direction that bellies his youth. Deep-hearted thoughts and pugnaciousness sit with frantic and tight. The jam ties threads and colours together; a dizzying trip that screws the mind and distorts the thoughts. With little regard for peacetime and ceasefire, the aural attack keeps a hold of your bones. The production has earthy elements; scorched earth vibrancy and soulful regard- not too cluttered or busy it is a stunning cut. Still Oceans is the most recent example of RKZ’s lust and insatiable talent. Catchy and feet-tapping beginnings prime the mind; swelling and soothing sonics come to the fore- replaced by a heavy and pervading beat. The vocal fragments and divides; snatches are spiked in to inject urgency- the central performance is tight and focused. Having offended someone; our man is retracting and offering an affidavit- the anxieties his colleague feels have been caused by his own foibles. If the friend wasn’t so closed-off and weak then RKZ would be stronger and more dependable. Suffering the effects of a warped friendship, you can feel the burden come through. Garage and Trip-Hop of the ’90s is played with; the still waters that “run deep” are delivered with inflammatory directness and relevance. A busy and hectic storyline is scored with a fantastic and deep composition- a fascinating glimpse into out hero’s psyche. Over the last year, our leader has shown some developments and evolution. His songwriting has become more compelling and measured; variegated and urgent, he seems to improve with each fresh song. Having cemented his authority early on, there is not a huge quantum leap- you can hear the small and impressive up-shifts. Increasing his lyrical genius; offering ‘dope’ and insanely memorable songs, RKZ is an avalanche of a talent (that snowballs with each movement)- the clear and fertile highs are present within Science X Soul. Think Of Me has the same quality and sparks of Still Oceans. Drawing in long-term collaborator Sanderson into the fray, her stunning and knee-buckling tones give the track a romantic and stunning gleam. The song looks at the completeness of love- how spiritual and emotional ties are as important as pure passion. The subject is a new one for RKZ- he explores love in past releases; never with this particular angle. The lyrics delve deep and touch the listener; provide insight and inspiration- guidance to love fools who are in it for the thrill of the physical. Philosophical and harmonious lyrics are matched by incredibly memorable vocal turns. It is terrific how much RKZ has packed in over the last year- improving with age (like a fine wine) he is an intoxicating and heady proposition. It means the future will be his for the taking- his creative mobility and range means he explores every subject with authority. Having so many arrows in his quiver, the next year will be an exciting one- you feel that he will strengthen once more; bring in plenty of personal memories- collaborate with some new and old friends.

When looking at acts that have influenced RKZ- our hero has some favourites. One of the most unexpected- but striking- inspirations is Jhené Aiko. The gorgeous American is a relatively new name on the scene. Her album Sail Out- with its sexy and eye-watering cover- impressed critical minds. The feathery tones and sky-high pitch resonated with U.S. audiences; the vocals float above the beats and come across as soaring and tranquil. Seen as a female equivalent to Frank Ocean, the mesmeric American has a busy future ahead. Her 2013 album showcases her salacious and seductive aspects; a relaxed album that has its heart on holiday- you are transported beside our heroine as she casts her dazed eyes around oceanic views. Seductive and slinky numbers mix with arresting come-ons and heartbreak. When she asks “Can I hit it again?” you wonder if she want to put her lips on a bong or have someone put their…well, you get the idea! The spirit of Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s duvet-set love-ins are updated; the ’60s Free Love movement is given a modern twist- the U.S. heroine is hip, streetwise and sassy in her declarations. Calling in an impressive rostra of guests, the album is filled with ideas and diversities. RKZ possess similar traits and qualities. He employs other singers to augment his songs- rather than come across as a novelty. Aiko’s pinner of an album had its heart in the seaside; that tranquility and listlessness made the songs so effective. RKZ is able to bond those distinct moments of sexy and seductive; meaningful and introverted- he is even stronger and more assured than Aiko. I am going to mention two Bs- when thinking of RKZ- both very different. Jon B is the first example for you all. The legendary U.S. R ‘n’ B maestro produced a string of scintillating albums like Cool Relax. That 1997 disc saw the seductive fusion of Soul, R ‘n’ B and swinging Hip-Hop. Enjoyable on the surface, the album dug deeper- the incredible production, songwriting and vocals make the L.P. such a gem. Alluring and romantic, it was a triumph. Throughout his career, Jon B has been impressing listeners and developing his craft. Able to unite strands and decades of Soul and Hip-Hop, he has had an effect on RKZ. Although our hero is more stunning and prosperous; he at least instills some of Jon B’s multi-talented convictions- ensuring all of his songs do not succumb to weakness and ineffectiveness. The Second ‘B’ I am employing is a British one: Plan B. When RKZ takes his thoughts to the street, you can hear embers of Plan B’s album Ill Manors. That album mixes wise-cracking with dark humour; intelligent wordplay and vivid, violent showdowns- dirty beats are mixed with cellos on some numbers. Looking at urban warfare and hostility, a myriad of instruments and emotions are laced in- classical elements are fused with grimy and filthy slams. The writing and delivery owe something to Eminem; Plan B’s unique take and personality imbues his songs with meaning and urgency- there is purposefulness and hard hits throughout. Although RKZ doesn’t tread the same lines of disaffectedness- parents screwing kids up; kids being gunned down- he has Plan B’s charms, talents and quality. Able to deftly weave various genres and experiences into the palette, the young Londoner marks himself as a mainstream proposition- he is no less effective and memorable as Plan B. When ‘Plan’ unleashed his debut- Who Needs Actions When You Got Words– critics noted how bold and confident it was. A fresh and daring album, it saw Ben Drew represent the voice of modern Britain- the disaffected youth were being documented. Mixing in that patented blend of primal beats and restrained moments, it was a hugely impressive debut. One of RKZ’s influences is Q-Tip. The American’s proprietary blend of sounds does not show up in too many U.K.-based music. Consider his album Amplified– you can hear some of RKZ in it. That album drew in sounds of The Love Movement- which capitulated, leading to Q-Tip’s solo career- the clipped beats and tribal movements made the album so memorable- the rapping is smooth and inventive; possessing few message songs. On Kamaal/The Abstract, Q-Tip enforced his promise and sound- the album was a huge success. More introspective (than previous works), it genre-hopped; taking in Nu-Jazz, ’70s Soul, Rock and Funk. The musicologist and icon went back to his love-sexy cores- the album was the one the public wanted. Quick and low monotone rapping nestled alongside influences of Prince, Stevie Wonder and D’Angelo. Fluid storytelling is projected with frantic pace; sometimes it is more relaxed- the organic production lends huge weight to proceedings. RKZ draws in sides of Q-Tip and his talent- those same qualities that define his reputation have had an effect on RKZ. Kendrick Lamar and J. Dilla are influences of our hero. Kendrick Lamar albums such as Section.80 were rife with anger, conviction and force- it looks at two central figures who cheat on their boyfriends. A concept album, it looks at infidelity and drug epidemics; the Reagan-era of the ’80s- slice of American life that have caused heartache and upheaval. Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City– the 2012 release- tied Rap thrills with weighty subjects. The U.S. star appealed to mainstream and underground Hip-Hop fans; it fused subtle shades and ambitious areas- it is as far-reaching and ambitious as Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The songs are complexly arranged and detailed; amazing control of cadence is bested by Lamar’s incredible lyrics. Shamelessly bold and mature, the young American benefited from his rally against the playas- the biographical insights being the songs to life. Open hearts and minds come to play; the whip-smart rapper elevated his music to giddy heights- here, there are plenty of hallucinogenic hooks and attractive production inputs. RKZ has a same maturity and huge ambition- his lyrics are as intelligent and memorable. Our hero employs narrative devices and personal insights; conceptual characters and anger- he turns his attentions to the street and youth as well. Able to mix it up with the likes of Lamar; RKZ has a bold and staggering breadth of ammunition at his disposal- it is clear that he has been influenced by the American maverick. J. Dilla created the album Champion Sound– with Madlip. The late Hip-Hop producer hit his stride on the 2003 release. The album saw some blunt and forceful rapping come through- critics noted how some serious greens must have been smoked (during recording). The beats are disorienting and head-tripping; the b-boy posturing is polished by innovative and intuitive production qualities. The legacy J. Dilla left behind him- he died of a rare blood disorder in 2006- is staggering. One of the most innovative and reputable Hip-Hop producers of all-time; I can see why he has left his marks on RKZ. Our London boy instills some of the genius’ style and panache in his music- sometimes his vocals incorporate some of J.Dilla’s tones and delivery styles. It is a frame of reference I hope he continues to employ- it has certainly made his work stronger and more potent. The final two names I will mention- as reference points- are Ghostpoet and Frank Ocean. One of few British idols, the engaging and pioneering Post-Dubstep/Alternative artist engaged critics on his 2011 album, Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam. Sounding like it should be a Captain Beefheart posthumous release, the album was defined by its urgency and insistence. The audacious and engaging music could not be ignored. The sort of lo-fi Trip-Hop numbers- Massive Attack perfected- defined the album- the poetry on the album defined British modern-day life. Ghostpoet’s Grime projections allowed the listener to engage with the lyrics; get inside the stories- the drowsy delivery doesn’t always work; it marks him out none-the-less. An impressive and emphatic debut, it has inspired many modern artists. Although not a chart-busting act, Ghostpoet is one of the most distinct and engaging acts on the modern scene- I can hear shades of him in RKZ. Frank Ocean’s stunning Nostalgia, Ultra coefficient mesmerised waiting ears. The pulsing, expansive and sophisticated music was unlike any that had come before- the self-effacing delivery and numbed vocal made the song so intoxicating. Quixotic and pioneering, Ocean literalises the futuristic visions and nostalgic remeberences- the romantic laments and mixtape sound looked at loss, respect and texture. RKZ introduces thematics of respect and loss; he has that same expansive and reaching ambition- a similarly smart and idiosyncratic style and writing flavour. Also influenced by Prince, RKZ has huge crossover potential and longevity. Ocean is in his 20s, yet wistfully longs for the past- giving shout-out to the likes of Marvin Gaye and Soul masters. Dreamlike spirals mix with novocaine-infused trips; rampant and swirling Neo-Disco codas wrestle for attention. As kaleidoscopic and deep as Nostalgia, Ultra was, it was eclipsed and trumped by Channel Orange. A modern masterpiece, the album has high-reaching storytelling and narratives; looking at relevant subjects for modern-day youth it shows huge wisdom and repose. A slow-burning epic, the album has beautiful impish crawls, Jazz motifs and a huge maturity. The American reached a career high- on only his sophomore effort. The casual expressiveness of Ocean’s voice is easy to fall in love with; the seismic shifts take your breath away- songs such as Thinkin Bout You rank among the finest tracks of the last ten years. RKZ may not have the exposure and pulpit of Ocean, yet does not suffer by comparison. As lush, rich, high-reaching and startling as Ocean, RKZ is the British equivalent- it will not be long until his own version of Channel Orange is unleashed. Perhaps the most pertinent and stunning reference point, I hope that RKZ continues to listen to Frank Ocean- he is an act that inspires legions of new musicians. Those colourful threads and heady compositions appear in RKZ’s work; the same unique blends and drunkening diamonds blow you away- his absolute statements are not subject to gradation. The current movements from RKZ have the potential to compel lovers of Frank Ocean- our young master will reach his heights before too long.

In press releases our featured track has been described in these terms:

Think Of Me is about intimacy, sensuality and connection. The record speaks of the spiritual journey two young lovers experience and how physicality is only a small aspect of complete togetherness.”

The sense of spiritual progression and sensuality is best defined by the track’s opening seconds. A woozy and warped collection of electronics bubble and spin. Eliciting a dizzying and trippy blend of low notes, it is a strangely romantic sound. Far surpassing any expectations, the intro. mixes Hip-Hop sounds (of the ’90s), Soul flavours and an edge of Trip-Hop. The notes trip and stutter; they race and calm- the entire parable is a hazy and delirious insight into what is to come. Our hero is first to the mark; his mind is filled with questions and desires. With his voice upbeat but firm, he poses questions (to his sweetheart): “Tell me what you think of/when you think of me?” Wondering where her mind goes; the words have an original and intelligent feel- they delve deep and push beyond the sexual. Lines such as the aforementioned could have you thinking of some rather vivid and sexual scenes; as we know, the song rebels against one-dimension thinking- it is a song that draws in emotions and spirituality. Of course, early exchanges do have a certain heat; you cannot picture a line such as that- without conjuring conclusions and certain impressions. Our hero is enticed by his lover’s touch; every time she smiles and moves her fingers, it provokes shivers and hypnotising- the sweat decibels rise considerably towards the 30 second mark. Backed by consistent beats; they are urgent and direct, the conviction and passion is hard to ignore- you not only immerse your mind into the song; support our hero and open your ears to his plight. Stepping to the mic. is Sanderson; following on from RKZ’s smooth delivery, her delicious and ethereal tones instantly get under your skin. The sweet and alluring delivery is filled with romance, deceleration and meaning- each word is projected with such a soulfulness, it makes you sigh and smile. Our heroine sees light- every time her man touches her skin- mixing spiritual and the metaphysical together; the story develops and unfolds. The love that she is given is deep inside; it resonates and fulfills her. Throughout the track, there is a great blend of physical and emotional- words can be taken either way. That vibrant and sparkling sexual attraction shows its soul; the desire and need burst through- the restraint and honesty that radiates is just as burning. The heroine is in the midst of a gripping and intoxicating love; a sympatico and unbreakable bond- the gracefulness and beauty that is instilled into each line is phenomenal. Wanting to spend the night with her man- “Is that alright with you?“- togetherness and détente is being surveyed. With the electronics and beats twisting and distorting, a rush of energy and electricity is unfurled- that endless compositional flexibility ensures the track never rests or limits itself. Our heroine seems happy and deeply contended. Directing towards our hero, she is appreciative and thankful; taken somewhere “I never never thought I’d go.” Past the one minute mark, you get a lot more insight into the story; greater meaning with regards the song’s intentions- the words give up their true meaning and relevance. Silky and smooth of voice, Sanderson dominates your thoughts and attentions- she never overpowers or ululates; simply allowing her ignited and vibrant passion to shine through. Before you become too entranced in the song, our hero is back- teed up by a rushing beat, queries and questions return to the fold. Those deep and pressing lines come back; wanting to know how true and deep his sweetheart’s love is, he wants to get inside her mind and thoughts. The infectious and flowing chorus sticks in your mind; compelled by the memorable and soulful vocal, you find yourself singing along with RKZ- knowing the words (from the first delivery) you are helpless to resist. Wondering whether his lover feels the rush, the song acts like a prayer or sermon- seeking answers from higher powers, the spiritual and quasi-religious nature of events keep coming around. With those defined and repeated questions (having made their mark), our heroine offers answers and insight. With a touch as soft as the moonlight that touches the ocean, she knows how devoted and committed (he is). A pure and unbreakable relationship, you feel as though our heroine would be broken- if her man walked away. Digging deeper than any sexual connection and componency, the way the love lifts her is the main take-away- it is much more important being emotionally nourished; having someone you have an indelible understanding with. RKZ unveils a gorgeously smooth and sweet vocal line; sparring with Sanderson, it drips with lust and meaning- matching the Soul greats, the delivery has honey, chocolate and spice in the mix. Having satisfied each other’s emotional needs, there is a feeling that sexual and physical desires are coming back into play- that inner longing seeps through. After the chorus comes swinging back in, the intro.’s staggering sound returns- swollen and twilight electronics tease and conspire; echoed sonics define the song’s key messages and emotions. Displaying as much overt passion as deep spiritualness, the track ends triumphantly. Having been enraptured and seduced by everything that has come before, it is hard to take it all in- Think Of Me‘s divine charms and spells overwhelm the mind. With RKZ already having established himself as a huge star-in-the-making, he unveils another staggering cut.

Before I offer congratulations to the two vocalists, it is worth summing up the song itself. Most tracks- that tie together R ‘n’ B, Soul and Hip-Hop- tend to have their thoughts trained towards the bedroom. When songs look at love and passion, the subjects tend to offer little but sweat and sex- there is scant consideration aimed at deeper and more meaningful avenues. When artists go to the other end of the spectrum- more philosophical areas are explored- the words and vocals do not hit home too hard; the songs come across as weak and unmemorable. Think Of Me is a song that dares to be different; goes that extra mile and represents love in its purest and more scintillating form. Documenting the deep and unending connection of two lovers, you are caught up by the mixture of purity and tremulous desire. The lyrics have a simple heart that means adds directness and urgency; original and intelligent enough to make your mind conspire and speculate. It is a rare example of what can be achieved when you go beyond commercial expectations and cliché realms- few acts take the time to address love in its most honest and mesmerising form. Handbook and Gifted The Great’s assured and incredible production helps to bring the song fully to life. Not too cluttered or lo-fi, emphasis is placed on concision and atmosphere. Perfectly fusing spiraling and delirious electronics with static and driving beats, the producers take time to consider the vitality of atmosphere. Joining together elements of Hip-Hop, Trip-Hop, Soul, Pop and Rap, the composition is a full and intriguing thing. Hard and punchy notes trade with lush and delirious swathes; backwards electronics and stutters exchange to tangle the emotions. A striking and multicoloured blend, the composition is one of the most fascinating and stunning I have heard all year. Sanderson and RKZ work wonderfully together. Our heroine’s voice is sensual and utterly seductive- individual and unexpected, its glorious and stunning sound gets straight into your heart. When speaking words of dedication and longing, you believe every word- you imagine a woman who is gripped by a wonderful and fulfilling love. Able to elicit a whisper and heady rush, Sanderson’s range- both emotional and physical- adds a huge amount of conviction and weight to the track. RKZ injects his inimitable and distinct voice to proceedings. Presenting the chorus with gusto, authority and emotion, he is able to get inside your head as effectively as Sanderson. I hope the two work together a lot in the future. RKZ is sensational when alone, yet something new and unexpected is uncovered when joining with Sanderson- their voices seem perfectly matched for one another. Science X Soul has already uncovered a treat- in Still Oceans– and Think Of Me is another incredible and addictive track. Showcasing a range of emotions and stories, RKZ is restless and incapable of slowing. His songwriting range and talent put me in mind of Frank Ocean; he has a similarly evocative and gripping voice- I would not be shocked to see RKZ ascend to the same levels of appreciation in years to come. If you are looking for a song to lift the mood; take you somewhere unexpected; grip you without relenting, make sure you investigate Think Of Me– a sensational and phenomenal song.

Having featured RKZ twice in the last couple of weeks- on my blog- it is always terrific to hear his music. When I interviewed him, I asked whether music could help the mentally ill- whether its power can help to balm anxieties and offer genuine guidance. Confident that music possess medical and curative properties, RKZ seems like a man on a mission- someone determined to help as many people as possible; using music as a guiding light. Our hero is keen to promote the benefits of social media- how powerful and potent it can be when you want to share music and get your name out there. It is clear that charity commitments mean a hell of a lot to RKZ- he is going to continue to work with C.A.L.M. and do as much work (for them) as he can. Having had a busy and frantic last few years, you would forgive him if he wanted to slow down- take some time to relax and sit back. Keen to make as much music as possible; reach as many as he can, Think Of Me is synonymous with its passion, directness and quality- a typical slice of RKZ gold. With Shawn Sanderson’s gorgeous and sensual vocals- aiding our hero’s quest- there is another glimpse into the mindset of Science X Soul. Past works- including four mixtapes- have shown just what a force RKZ is; how fertile and mobile his creative mind is- the future is going to be very bright. Once the mixtape- and his album- are released, it will surely bring in a lot more fans; convert the uninitiated and unfamiliar- ensure there are performance requests emanating from all corners of the globe. On that note, it seems the Luton-born star could have a huge international career. It appears a residency in the U.S. is not out of the question- his music and personality would be eaten up and adored by the American public. There are plenty of musicians and acts there that would be keen to collaborate; enjoy the rewards of joining their music (with his)- definitely something to consider. I am going to try my best to see RKZ in the flesh; up close and personal in the live environment- see just how his music resonates with others. He is the sort of man who could aid and assist my own multi-disciplined music endeavours- as I aim to launch my business. With grand ideas of a music charity, website, bar and website in mind, I am keen to assist and help as many as possible- recruit musicians and artists to my cause. The problem with a lot of musicians is the lack of caring and outward consideration. They are not bad people; it seems that their own personal endeavours are more important than anything else- charity and benevolence tends to take a back seat. Musicians that do more and aim further are going to be the ones that will last- there will always be a place for them. RKZ is keeping busy and ensuring that his next year is going to be action-packed and focused. Given his workrate, I would not be surprised to see more releases and singles beckon forth- he is keen to collaborate with as many different people as possible. Before I conclude, I just want to mention the artist himself- just what he is providing. Think Of Me is as authoritative and memorable as Still Oceans: if the rest of Science X Soul is as striking, we may bear witness to 2014’s most essential record. Having investigate previous RKZ mixtapes, I can pay testament to just how good and nuanced they are- the songs reveal new meanings as time progresses. With an album on the horizon, it seems that there is no stopping the young pioneer. Having been inspired to run a half-marathon (for Mind)- because of RKZ- he is an artist that compels you to do more; be better and open up your eyes. The music itself is that which can compel and rouse up-and-coming artists. From my own perspective, I have been provided much to think about; witnessed a new and scintillating voice come through. What the next few months hold is hard to say- in the run up to 2015, the 24-year-old is going to be covering a lot of ground; playing to a lot of people. For those of you who bemoan the inconsistency of the music industry- me included- make sure you take solace and heart from the great artists that do come through. Not only can they put you in a better frame of mind; they can give you a new lease on life- focus your thoughts towards more positive places. RKZ is someone who will not tire from self-improvement and the betterment of others- his music highlights his soulfulness and determination. With embers of Think Of Me still spiking my brain, I am reminded of some of our hero’s words. On his track A Song To Drink Tea To, the following lines were delivered: “I’m hoping that this ocean of a view/Has me sitting next to you.” Given the effects Think Of Me has (on the listener) these words can be applied readily here. Take the chance to seek out RKZ and his current movements- as well as his past. One of my goals for 2014- in addition to getting some cash together- is to go and see some of my favourite music review subjects. After falling in love with RKZ’s special brand of song, I shall make the trip to come see him…

I’M sure I can find the money.

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Track Review: Fola- Comfortable





Comfortable is available from:

20th May, 2014

Fola [Pensouls]

Villi Vbeats Mambu & Femi V [@ProducerVbeats & @femi_vessel]



Fola & Ideh


Areatha Anderson [@areathaanderson], Fola & Ideh [@sylviaidehuk ]

LNT Music Group [@LNTMusicGrp ]

R ‘n’ B, Soul, Pop, Hip-Hop


With so many R ‘n’ B and Soul acts- in the modern scene- declining (as their careers progress), Fola has a consistency and sense of evolution that stands him apart. From his early days, the London-based artist has grown and built his stature. Comfortable is a fine and addictive slice from an incredible talent- his cocktail of smooth and sexual soulfulness; catchy and rhythmic R ‘n’ B motifs make him a scintillating proposition

ONE of the best things about music is the sheer diversity and surprise…

it can provide. Having just reviewed a Hardcore/Punk band from Stoke, I now take my thoughts to an R ‘n’ B/Soul act from London. Two more distinct acts you could not find- there is nothing to connect them at all. I am going to mention a few points today; one revolves around Soul and R ‘n’ B. The genres are quite busy and well-represented- all sorts of different sounds can be heard. In terms of mainstream and popular appeal, there are few acts that resonate in the mind. With the ranks of the charts being dominated by effete and short-term appeal, the Soul and R ‘n’ B acts- that are in the charts- are not exactly the most heady and impressive. With the likes of Beyoncé perhaps having passed (their best days by), the job is left to fall onto the new generation- find acts that can come through and impress. Being a fan of Usher and Michael Jackson, I yearn to find acts that can unify and bond Soul, Pop and R ‘n’ B- draw in those glorious sounds and possibilities. When I scan around the music landscape, there are not many convincing artists that pull this off- there are one or two; they are in the minority. A lot of the mainstream- and new music- is dominated by Pop (pure and unadventurous), Indie and Rock- styles of music that fuse multiple sounds and emotions are not as widespread as they should be. Sam Smith and La Roux are two examples- I mention a lot- that have been able to melt Soul, R ‘n’ B and Pop together- in a riotous and colourful blend. It is a shame- it is not done more- as the results (when done right) can be tremendous and hugely evocative. If you look back at history; cast your mind to the ’80s and ’90s- just look at what the likes of Whitney Houston and Boyz II Men have produced- that incredible and emotive music; the sheer passion and genius. I have a few more small points to raise; for now, I will introduce my featured act:

Inspired by the greats of the music world like: Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men, Brandy, Usher and Beyoncé, young Londoner singer/songwriter Fola is also set to make his mark in the world of music. Developing & perfecting his craft from the early ages of 11, Fola entered various talent competitions and showcases performing to different audiences around London. 2007 saw Fola branch out more by entering popular TV show The X-factor where he got through to bootcamp. The year also saw Fola tour with Grammy Award nominated singer Joshua Groban on his Awake UK tour. Fola continued to perform locally generating a following for himself as an artist. Writing and recording new original material was the next agenda for the talented singer. Fola began working with talented producers, songwriters and vocal arrangers like: Maleek Berry, DDark, J Warner, DavidB, SOS, Alex E and Richard Isongs, to create great music that would represent him well and showcase his deep, smooth, sultry vocals that set him apart from other singers on the scene today. Fola’s music has been described as mainstream r&b/pop music that is universal and highly relatable in content. Star was Fola’s first ever official single release in 2011 with UK MC/Producer DDark. The song was a pop/grime/electro club banger that did very well for both acts, opening more doors of opportunities as well as building their ever-growing fan base. Due to the great response from Star, from Dj’s across the country and fans, Fola decided to release his first solo project – GO. A mixtape consisting of some songs that he had been working on for the past 2 years prior to the release of Star. The mix-tape was a message driven body of work that dealt with love, independence and good times. In 2013 Fola decided to change his sound and go for a more acoustic driven project – After Green, released in the summer of 2013. The Mixtape was inspired by the Kinects – Fola’s fans. A lot of people took interest in Fola’s live acoustic act and wanted to hear more of that sound recorded. After Green saw the collaboration with Femi Vessel, guitarist and keyboardist from London. Fola also teamed up with Mr Damention for Swag Back, the first song from the mixtape. Swag was also produced by Femi Vessell. The mixtape also consisted of covers of Riahnna’s Diamonds and Chris Browns’ Don’t Judge Me. Beyonce’s I Miss You was also recorded following the success of his performance of the song on reload session, which generated huge interest on YouTube. Other producers that contributed to the project Akin The Producer (Diamonds & Don’t Judge Me) & Maleek Berry (Together, Open The Gates & Round & Round). Fola is now in a song writing duo called Pensouls with singer/songwriter David B. Both have been writing for other artists and Fola’s new up and coming EP – Promise Land set to be released in 2014. Fola has also formed a close collaboration with producer Villi ‘V Beats’ Mambu. The Open The Gates singer just recently signed to GMG Music Management, and is set to do great things in the future. Promise Land EP is a more mature, smooth sensual side and explores r&b/pop/soul styled music.

Male solo artists are producing some mixed results- over this last year. The solo market in general is among the most exciting and prosperous- the best of the breed are deeply impressive. Having so many sole acts on the scene, the overall consistency and quality is not as high as it should be. Perhaps feeling the weight of expectation; maybe not showcasing enough range and diversity, the current crop are a mixed bag. The very finest artists have been causing salivation and deep impressions- this is especially true of new acts. Fola is a musician that is definitely not capable of disappointing or being meagre- his ambition and flair is cementing him as a name to watch. With his E.P. Promise Land arriving soon, the mature and sensual concoctions he elicits are causing seduction and effusive praise. Not only does the London-based star explore his soulful and sexual side- up-tempo and crackling R ‘n’ B snaps are experimented with. A fully-rounded and ambitious act, he is going to be making serious waves in years to come. In spite of the fact he has appeared on reality TV- a subject that causes me to rant and scream- Fola has developed into a credible and unique artist- someone who is determined not be seen as just another Pop-cum-Soul act. His mobility and changing sounds have seen him develop and improve- since his earliest days, he has grown more confident, assured and striking. In terms of new music, there are a few acts that fuse similar sounds and experiences- as Fola- into their music- few do it with such a sense of occasion and conviction. One of the most bold and memorable solo artists coming through, the young Londoner will be sure to reap critical acclaim- from the release of his E.P. Before I move on, I want to explore the issue of London music. Over the last few weeks, artists from RKZ to Dana McKeon have come under my radar- both acts take their motifs and inspirations from the street. RKZ’s Rap and Spoken-Word gems are literal and intelligent; draw in paragons of modern-day existence around love and ambition- he is one of the most exciting and talented musicians around. Dana McKeon’s Beatbox-Pop looks at ambition and dreams- her incredible vocal abilities are stirred in a melting pot of incredible sounds. The capital is promoting a great deal of fervent and daring Urban-influenced acts- musicians that give a great and authoritative representation of modern Britain. Fola has his heart in similar avenues; his social consciousness and observations mingle with heartfelt love songs and codas of passion- marking himself out as one of London’s best artists. Having recently been ensconced in a musical slump, London is starting to revive and inspire: other parts of the U.K. have been stealing focus throughout 2014. With a fresh and hungry wave of (phenomenal) artists pouring forth, eyes are being trained back at London- the ancestral home of some of history’s greatest musical moments. The various scenes, sights and sensations are compelling (musicians here)- leading to some wonderfully-realised songs and albums. Fola is a man on a mission: an artist that wants to cover as much ground as possible; record music for as long as he can. His initial and early works have been met with adulation and respect; he is increasing his potential and quality with every new movement (he unveils)- this natural evolution is going to be exciting to see. Comfortable is a typically confident and memorable slice from the young star- a perfect representation as to what his E.P. will contain. New music is tempting in a lot of eager and excitable musicians- each keen to present their songs to the public. In so much as they require market share and backing, they also need some inspirational drive- acts that have proved themselves and can give guidance. With a drive and talent that demands close investigation, Fola is sure to be a valuable reference to up-and-coming musicians- many will be able to take notes from the young star’s current endeavours.

For a greater appreciation of Fola’s present, it is worth dipping back into his past. Having recorded so many different tracks- sometimes with other acts- there is a great and vast range to choose from. Having developed and changed since his early days, tracks like Living A Lie are some of his earliest attempts. That track has an atmospheric and haunting beginning. Sensual and romantic vocals back evocative and scenic lyrics. As the vocals are layered and built up, our hero is keeping his feelings inside- he has been hurt by his sweetheart but does not let the pain out. Prince’s early-career ideas come out in the track; those smooth and hypnotic vocal sounds come forth- supported by rampant and primal beats. Trip-Hop and R ‘n’ B elements unit to whip up atmospheric and soulful blends- it is a stunning statement from the young artist. Antarctica is pummeling and urgent- rushing and clapping electronics beckon the song forth. The vocals stutter and tease; promulgate different emotions- lustful and pained come through to varying degrees. Smooth and gorgeous, the performance looks at the changes of life and love. Drawing some hints of Usher and Michael Jackson, the track is catchy and danceable. Crackling and sparkling with life, it is bolstered by an impressive and polished production. Fola went on to build his reputation with I’m Here. The song marries Eastern-sounding strings- Asian sounds come out- and a sensualised and silky vocal. The beats are more sparse- punchier and more packing in potency. Emotive lyrics and insights give the song many layers and shades. At the heart, our hero wants to support a girl- throw his arms out and provide comfort. Showcasing tenderness and thoughtfulness, our man is there for her- keen to get her through tough times. Taking Off features the talents of Jamkilla- a song that has more robotic and processed moments. The vocals are put through computers; fractured and echoing, there is an oddly detached and anodyne sound that comes through. This does not equate to poor quality at all- the song comes through urgently and insistently. Displaying shades of current R ‘n’ B and Soul, it is a fresh and vibrant cut (from terrific collaborative talents). When the mixtape After Green arrived, it saw our hero increase his ambitions and desires. Round and Round shows some karmic retribution and Golden Rule equality- the breathy and sighing beginnings are a tantalising and intriguing injection. The modern and cutting-edge production values give the song shine and clarity- it is emotive and full-bodied. Female vocal input creates a more rounded and diverse feel; the distinct tones parabond marvelously and elicit a lot of romance and sexuality. Beautiful and impressive, it is a fine number. Open The Gates is another highlight- a soft and building start reminds me of Whitney Houston and Destiny’s Child. Mixing in some aspects of Prince and Boyz II Men, the song unites threads of ’80s/’90s U.S. Soul with some current R ‘n’ B sounds. Whereas Round and Round looked to the future and the cessation of mankind- among other thoughts- here there is spark and a glowing heart. Retaining that distinct sound and personality, it is a track perfect for the warm summer evenings- when you want to sit back and unwind. Bringing us more to the present moment, Hitting The Road is another gem. A rushing and urgent intro. sees build and development occur. The vocal is insistent and lower-down; mixing greater tonal range and diversity, we see our hero’s vocal range come to the fore. Direct and swelling, the chorus is a catchy and insatiable thing. Backed by juddering and vibrant electronics, it sees a bold and confident leap forwards- our man keen to develop and expand his sound and artistry. The Way You Are is a sensual and soft track- vibrating and machine-rendered vocals have some Usher-flavoured tones. Modern-day R ‘n’ B rawness fuses with classic and vintage Soul soothe. Comfortable continues the quality and sense of adventurousness. Mixing flavours and sounds into the mix, it is a cinematic and fully-rounded beast. More insistent and catchy, the vocal is more natural and unfettered. Beats here get your feet moving and tapping; the smooth and chocolately vocal turn spars sexy with urgent. His finest cut to date, the song is a bold and impressive statement from a mobile and hungry musician- someone who never fails to surprise and impress. Over the course of a couple of years, Fola has managed to draw in a range of influences and ideas- his newest incarnation is as unique and individual as anything. While there are embers of Usher, Whitney Houston and Boyz II Men, it is hard to compare the track with anything else- its freshness and striking memorability lodges the notes in your brain. Fola is keen to melt some familar sensations with his own inimitable voice- his songwriting is distinct and original as any I have heard. Whilst it sits well with the best mainstream examples of R ‘n’ B and Soul, its Pop sensibilities and undertones mean it cannot be defined and confined- the song will strike a chord with a myriad of different listeners. Incredibly insatiable and addictive, it provides a captivating glimpse into what the imminent E.P. will possess- a tableau of excellence from one of this country’s most ambitious and hard-working musicians. It will be great to see where Fola goes from here- whether he stays with his current sound or develops it further. The honing and consecrations have led to his most stirring and impressive songs to date- I would be loathed to suggest improvements or changes. Having matured and learnt as a singer, Fola is now starting to come across as a bona fide star-in-the-making. More confident and alive than ever before, you can hear the passion and meaning come through- his performance on Comfortable is as tight and impactful as anything else. This all bodes well for the future months- it will see the young star transcend to the mainstream and cause excitable ripples. Over the last few years, we have seen a lot happen for Fola- his music and personal developments have enforced his music and direction. Drawing in some sound new avenues and ideas, that hypnotising concoction of smoother-edged R ‘n’ B magnanimously joins with fizzing and scintillating Pop crackle- the deep and soothing Soul swathes make the music so compelling and nuanced. I am sure there will be another E.P.- or album- due in 2015- a great opportunity to see just what the young master can come up with. The here and now is where we are- the elliptical, effusive and inspiring offerings are gaining momentum and huge praise. Guaranteed to soundtrack your summer, Comfortable is the concentration and distillation of all Fola’s multitudinous strands- a vibrant tapestry from a very innovative and daring artist.

Although Fola is a distinct and fresh voice, he does dip into music’s past- inspired by some of the greats of music. One of the most treasured icons- for Fola- and distinct names is Michael Jackson. When looking back at Fola’s early work, I could detect signs of the King of Pop. The best Jackson album- to use as a reference point- is Off the Wall. One of Jackson’s lesser-renowned works- it did scoop Grammy awards- some of its most emotive and sensual moment have resonated with Fola. The 1979 masterwork was the first true work of genius (from Jackson). Songs such as the title track and She’s Out of My Life are classics that have aged incredibly well; Rock with You is an insatiable and upbeat jam- Working Day and Night is a classic cut that is under-appreciated among music listeners. Although Off the Wall did not make the same strides as Thriller, it was a hugely impressive disc. The album remains a slick and authoritative R ‘n’ B/Pop hybrid- a seamless and wonderful fusion that is the leader of the breed. With a Disco-flavoured slant, the album marked a huge leap of maturity- gone were the immature and naive cores to be replaced by something harder and more grown-up. The class and epic grooves that spill out of Jackson’s album have compelled and inspired generations of new acts- Jackson’s style and technique (as a singer) were cemented and augmented. Voting committees and the press were more ambivalent- than Jackson would have hoped. Thinking the album deserved much wider acclaim- he has a point- that spurned his burning ambition to impress and seduce- ensuring critics did not ignore him, the thrills on Thriller left no-one in doubt. Fola instills a lot of Off the Wall‘s majesty and styles. That similar maturity and edginess comes through in his music; his singing technique and projection mixes sleek and smooth with jagged and rugged- the boy and man personas tussle and wrestle with one another. Songs like Comfortable combine heartfelt sentiments with some knife-edge thrills and slices. Jackson marked himself out as a gifted and peerless vocalist- on the album- and used that elasticity to bring life to each song. Fresh and vibrant, tracks like She’s Out of My Life and Get on The Floor remain solid works of genius. Strong melodies, rhythmic hooks and the dazzling production galvanised the album- Quincy Jones and Jackson’s mix of Disco beats and funky guitars added life and layers to all of the tracks. Fola imbues his songs with similar consideration and depth- making sure snatches of different genres and instruments add intrigue to the surroundings; Jacko has had a clear effect. When looking at other legends of song, the likes of Stevie Wonder come to mind. When I consider a Wonder album to introduce- I can parallel with Fola- it would be Innervisions. Perhaps the closest-sounding album (to Fola’s sound), it remains a real and personal collection of tracks. Wonder is the central genius that everything else revolves around- his inventiveness and range of movements is quite astonishing. Taking in the likes of Blues, Soul, Folk and black music means the disc is a compelling masterpiece. So much depth and knowledge went into it- you can tell just how cultured and astute each note and thought is. Not keen to micro-manage, Wonder mixes the lyrical and didactic into one- his lack of literal vision is heightened in the glaring clarity and sight of his music. Themes range from real-world problems to subjugation and entrapment- the young master looks at the poison of the city; the lies we tell children; the ill effects of drugs. Fola has a similar knowledge and love of music: having incorporated so many different genres into past work; on his current offering he solidifies and tightens this natural affinity and talent. Having a vision for emotional resonance and passionate depth, he makes sure all of his songs differ and do not overlap- the range of topics he explores is phenomenal. The narrative catchiness of Innverision‘s finest tracks marries hard-scrabble cautionary tales with stunningly startling commentaries. Fola has been inspired by the likes of Stevie Wonder: the way he deftly intertwines pressing issues with melodic resonance is highly effective and uplifting. Maybe many would not think that Whitney Houston has had an effect on Fola- she definitely has. One of the most captivating and applauded artists of our time, her finest work remains My Love Is Your Love. Whilst her Whitney album was perhaps a bit more personal and immediate, her 1998 startle hit harder with listeners and critics. The mature consistency on the album marked a career high-point- the mixture of survivor instinct-cum-heartfelt lover makes everything sound so elemental and imploring. The music transformed into something less rigid and more supple- Houston introduced vocal improvisations and fewer restrained boundaries (to her performances). The album showcased how effortless she commingled Disco, Dance, Pop and R ‘n’ B together- sometimes within the same song. The L.P. does have some old-fashioned sludge; for the most part the crossover appeal and potential cemented it as a modern classic. It is the emotion and conviction- Houston injects in every song- that makes her such a hugely influential singer. Able to hit heady heights and seduce when events are calmer, her emotional spectrum is only matched by her impassioned and gripping voice. Fola tends not to let his voice belt and operate as emphatically- he is more effective and distinct when letting his crooning and smooth side work. There are five more names and artists I will list; before that, D’Angelo sticks in mind. The Neo-Soul legends has inspired legions of modern-day singers- in no small part due to his dynamic and electrifying range. Brown Sugar was the album that introduced the world to D’Angelo. Mixing ’70s Prince with Smokey Robinson, critics were impressed by the updated sounds and lack of over-familiarity. The revolutionary rebel sees R ‘n’ B revitalised and reinvigorated: dosed with a spoonful of kick and passion, Brown Sugar remains one of the most important album of the ’90s. D’Angelo looked back at the legends of Soul and injects Hip-Hop potency into older sounds. Later in his career, D’Angelo forsook bootylicious for disquiet and evocation; he did not succumb to tune-and-hook- it was the blueprint for post-Soul music. Incorporating Vaudeville-Memphis, Ragtime-Blues fusion and Jazz notations, the Voodoo album (D’Angelo’s 2000 work) was his masterpiece. Before I elicit a quartet of legends, I will mention a big influence- for Fola- Boyz II Men. The U.S. vocal harmony group started out bombastically with Cooleyhighharmony. The production saw throwback elements infused with contemporary stylisations- the “Hip-Hop Doo-Wop” group put a collegiate spin on the traditions of Doo-Wop. Imbuing everything with a modern edge, the boys (or Boyz) sparred swinging anthemics with tender and rousing emotional ballads- letting their incomparable and unmatched vocals do the talking. Libidnal melisma, swaggering arms-aloft stutter and sonic cherry bombs came out in the album- something that was expanded upon on future albums. Although the U.S. legends received mixed critical reception- following their early albums- you cannot deny the effect II had. Their finest hour, the album sees high-soaring jams ensuring crowd-pleasing moments. The slower numbers are the ones that resonated the hardest- when the group mixed their stunning tones together. Fola draws in a lot of Boyz II Men’s best aspects: his soft and emotive vocals elicit the same sort of chills as Boyz’; he is able to soar and seduce- reflect and introvert. Possessing the same smooth and sweet tones; the updated versions of vintage sounds- Fola is a modern-day distillation of Boyz II Men. Whilst unable to summon up the same army of vocals, our London hero does include just as much emotional weight and soulfulness. When he brings the lights down- on the more soaring and romantic numbers- that is when you hear the familiarities. Continuing the run of U.S.-born influences, Prince is another name- that you can draw with Fola. When listening to Fola’s past work; his vocal acrobatics and incredible collages of tones- I could hear some mid-career Prince. Two Prince albums come to my thoughts- when looking at Fola’s work. Purple Rain is the first of his albums (I will mention). Lauded as a work of genius, the album must have featured on Fola’s young mind. Although the L.P. delves into Rock and Heavy Metal territory, that experimental and unrestrained sense of ambition can be compared with Fola. Hard and funky beats- on Purple Rain– sat with majestic ballads and Neo-Psychedelic oeuvres. Fola- in his previous incarnations- has introduced Funk-laden moments with eerie and more potent sounds. When listening to Comfortable, I caught a D.N.A. mix of Take Me With U and Computer Blue– maybe some of When Doves Cry‘s luster is there too. Prince hits home hardest- with me at least- when he is in more sensual and romantic territory. When his voice slinks and whispers, you get some of his most potent offerings. The Gold Experience is a Prince album that I can compare with Fola. The stripped-down Funk and delicate balladry made thew album so emphatic; the dynamic range- seen throughout the album- impressed fans hugely. If you listen to wonders like The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, you get a stunning and spine-tingling love song. Prince introduces some of his highest and lowest notes; the breadth and depth of his passion and panache- it is a Philly Soul tribute that grips at your soul. The tightness and array of sounds made The Gold Experience such a joy- the scintillating stories and confidence displayed cannot be faulted. Fola has demonstrated his versatility and dynamism in his past work; on Comfortable he elicits the same purity, beauty, power and curiosity (as seen in The Gold Experience‘s finest moments). The final trio of influential guides are Brandy, Usher and Beyoncé. Brandy is an artist most of us have heard of- maybe few listen to regularly. The American hit her initial peak on Never Say Never. That album saw a mingling of Adult-Contemporary with streetwise edges. Subdued and smooth vocals made her lyrics- some of which were distinctly below-par- urgent and essential. The pizzazz and charm that radiated throughout the album was only bested by a unique mix of jaded emotions and gleeful outpouring. The quality of the songs and production elevate the album beyond easy criticism and derision- the sense of adventure and ambition mark it out as a solid and impressive work. Fola has more consistency and quality (than Brandy) yet does instill some of her hallmarks and elements. His fusions of streetwise and soft make his songs so deep and compelling; the soulful and uplifting deliveries make all of his words so compulsive and necessary. Usher is a favourite of mine; someone who has inspired the Comfortable star. My Way is perhaps the best of Usher’s earliest works- the album that saw the ambitious pretender hit the big leagues. Tracks such as You Make Me Wanna… stood out in the imagination- that sexy and seductive lick is hard to overlook. Refined, tasteful and gentle; the album was a sensual and mild-tone work. Sweet-natured and not too one-minded, the album showcased a distinct and defined personal voice- one that was threatening to explode (on previous albums). Throughout the years, Usher has been developing his style and projection- there are fewer down-tempo numbers (on recent works) than his early career. The refreshing offerings on discs such as Here I Stand stand up to repeated listens- that album shows Usher more matured and destined for dancefloor pantheons. While a lot of R ‘n’ B purveyors- of the ’90s and ’00s- came across as atrabilious and uninspired; Usher developed and reinvented himself. The king of R ‘n’ B, Usher shows- on every album- just what a force he is; all backed by that indisputably glorious voice. Fola has changed and evolved just as much (as Usher)- keen to remain fresh and inspired. Having covered bachelor boy days and grown-up reflections, the Londoner has managed to defy expectations and protocol. The last name I shall mention is Beyoncé. Perhaps an unexpected influence, the U.S. giant confounded critics on her Beyoncé album. Having solidified her reputation, few were expecting something so scintillating and vital. Sexed-up falsettos and ramped-up emotions sat with effortless swoops and determined and defiant rebellion. Although Fola does not tread the same feminist lines, he does contain and present the same swooping and sexed-up swathes- able to unite diverse sounds and make them sound utterly compelling. Gospel power and Hip-Hop flow goes into his music; his technical range and emotional depth can be compared to Beyoncé- a singer that is regarded as one of the most talented on the modern scene. Loose song structures and sexuality marked Beyoncé as a triumph- made for the clubs and contemporary venues, every track seemed like an essential and pressing made-for-radio hit. Sonically experimental and clashes of emotions married bold exploration and self-examination- topped off with music that drew in as many men as women. Not megolomanical and braggadocio, Beyoncé’s feminist presentations were not crafted to rebel against potential listeners- they were aimed at attracting as many as possible. Monogamy, romance, heartache and mixed-message come-ons united metaphorical with literal. Fola is uncompromising when it comes to emotions and barriers- his music dips as deep and ambitiously as Beyoncé’s. If you are a fan of any of the artists above; not overly-keen on any of them, then do not fear- Fola is an act that is as distinct and individual as any. Only incorporating the touches and shades of his idols, the abiding sound is one created by a striking and special talent.

A futuristic and blissed-out vibe heralds Comfortable in. Psychedelic and spacey electronics wail and echo- it is a smooth and intriguing rapture that begins things with a heady and insatiable kick. Joined by finger-clicks, the parable starts to relent and calm- romantic strings are introduced in the background to offer serenity. Right up until the initial vocal offerings, the composition is kept busy and layered. Elements of Soul, R ‘n’ B and Pop are married alongside (slightly) heavier elements. When our hero does approach the mic., his voice is determined and urgent. Speaking to his sweetheart, he is in romanticised and supportive mood. Whatever happens with her; if there are any issues at all, our man is “gonna be right by your side.” As the night draws in, the mood starts to get sexier and slinkier. The vocal is velvety and entrancing; switching from Prince-inspired sounds to a darker and more chocolate-toned line- the combination of vocals (Fola’s) gives the song an additional weight and sense of occasion. You can picture the scenes and sights that are unfolding. As he directs to his woman, the lights are dimmed and the night draws in. Always being there for her, our hero will “give it all to you“- if she wants to party and dance then he will follow her. That sense of satisfaction and romantic intention is clear; the sensuality and electricity of the performance never relents. The production is polished and clear enough to allow the vocal to shine; it does not bury the compositional layers too deeply. The percussive beats crackle and spark; the swathes of Soul-tinged electronics keep the sweat and sultriness very much alive. If his sweetheart wants to move her body way down, then the night is primed for that- whatever the mood and situation dictates; our hero is by her side and ready to accompany her. There is no pressure and forcefulness; that relaxation and freedom enforces the sound. Against the scenes of late-night adventure and action, the supportive sounds layer and build. The vocals weave in and out of one another; tripping and spiraling, the energy and fascination grows by the second. Supported by atmospheric and kinetic compositional crackles; Comfortable grows ever headier. The title is the abiding point and message- our hero just wants his girl to be comfortable. Not just training his thoughts to the bedroom, Fola does not succumb to male intuition- the most predominant aspects of a lot of R ‘n’ B artists. As a female vocal is offered in- to bring the heroine to life- an additional aspect of beauty is presented. Her sweet and sensual tones blend perfectly with Fola. The duo work with one another and ensure an elliptical and scintillating unity- one that perfectly gets inside of your head. Having been washed up in the swathes and waves of sound; the enraptured and imploring vocals- the next verse arrives. Our hero restrains his desires to offer up some sage advice. Scenes and sets are drawn into the song. The girl is very much on (Fola’s) mind and arresting his desires; his movie queen sweetheart is making his mind and thoughts spin- wanting to “kill the scene“, the sexual tension grows once more. There is long-term ambition and intent in our hero’s thoughts; wanting the girl for more than a night, he seems to be in the throes of love- perhaps her alluring and unforgettable charm is settled inside his heart. When the vocals- once more- slither and slink inside one another, you catch glimmers of other artists. Being inspired by the likes of Boyz II Men, Michael Jackson- having elements of Prince to his sound too- that adds enormous potency to the voice. Able to weave in that same captivating fascination (Prince pioneered), the sexiness and stunning range; the smooth and delirious harmonies of Boyz II Men- the crackle and snap of Michael Jackson. Mixtures of high and low notes mingle with a range of different emotions- lust and desire sit with mature and restrained offerings. Caught up in the multifarious and uplifting vocal combinations, the song never stops fascinating and overwhelming- its rushes and energy mandate the listener to become involved in the song; get their feet tapping and let the music take them away. Comfortable has a great vintage vibe to it: uniting the classic Soul and R ‘n’ B sounds of the ’70s and ’80s- the Pop magic of the ’80s and early-’90s- it fuses modern-day and current sounds. The way Usher updates older and more established cuts- with a veneer of modern shine- makes him such an authoritative and legendary figure.  These are the same qualities that can be applied to Fola. His voice and music could easily fit in the halcyon days of Soul; just as relevant to the music of 2014, it is an intoxicating and detailed blend. Among the scenes and proclamations of sensuality, the hero allows his mature and protective side to come out. All of the other men- who have messed his girl around- have left her bruised and cynical- our man is the only one that will keep her safe and not let her down. You believe the words that come forth. In part this is down to the performance and conviction that emanates; largely it is because there is no good reason to lie. Having taken in everything that has come before; the directness of the words- the latest revelations and promises seem natural and wholly viable. Because of this, the song gains extra credibility and weight. Lesser artists would either bog their songs down in innuendo and sexual ruminations or else come across as saccharine and desperate. Fola seamlessly blends emotions so that a perfect balance is created: you are rooting for him (and his girl) to be together; hoping that his intentions are true. At no point does the song seem disingenuous or ineffective. In the chorus, the vocals rise and layer; high and sweet utterances bond with low-down and silken projections. Towards the final stages, you have more of the story (and facts) at your disposal; the luxuriant and devilish glee keeps gripping the soul- the track never lets its sense of magic and impressiveness dip. Even when the vocal ends- and the outro. comes into effect- you are hooked and immersed. Finishing with a cocktail of snapping beats and languorous, aching strings- the track comes to its conclusion. Having packed so much into his agenda, Comfortable is a scintillating and hugely memorable track that struggles to remove itself from your brain.

Being a new convert to the wonders of Fola, I have spent a few hours investigating his back catalogue and beginnings. Some of his early track hints at the promise shown on Comfortable. To my mind his latest cut is the ultimate testament to his true talents and potential. Never has he produced so an urgent, honest and impassioned track- the Londoner means serious business. Before I commend Fola’s various distinctions and talents, it is worth reflecting on the track. The production values are incredible throughout. There are no detractions I could hint at; everything is mixed and blended perfectly. Sometimes there is a lack of clarity in the vocals- some of the lyrics get passed over because of over-urgency and pace. A similar fate has befallen solo singer George Ezra. His album has taken a slight knock because of similar issues. Some of his lines and songs are delivered with too much speed and urgency- meaning words can run into one another and lose their clarity. It is not a huge issue or problem to worry about- the busy and packed composition sometimes becomes a little over-zealous and pressing. In spite of some minuscule dents, the overall sound is one that grips and impresses hugely. The production does not come across as too polished and perfected- there is plenty of room for raw emotion and passion to come through. Having the sound and flavour of an old-school R ‘n’ B track, Fola seems at home and natural here. The brilliant inclusion of past masters- and their voices- bonds with current and contemporary vibes- the ensuing concoction is a mesmeric and scintillating one. The backing vocals add a huge amount of passion, delicacy, sweetness and sensuality. Seductive and breathy at times; heavy and hot the next, you become enraptured by the beauty and sparks that are elicited. It is worth focusing on the man himself; investigating his roles. Comfortable contains some concise and impressive lyrics. Never juvenile or ineffective, they are tight and well-considered- mixing honest and mature sentiments with libidinous lust, they defy expectations. A lot of modern-day artists are derided due to their lack of depth and lyrical ability; their pen often is not as sharp as their voice- Fola does not suffer this same setback. His words are as crackling and rich as his tones; lines and scenes mix detailed with oblique; they are direct and lush one moment; sparse and free-form the next. Demonstrating an ear for story and pace; an authority and love of classic R ‘n’ B and Soul kings, he mixes this into Comfortable- a song that is packed with detail and fascination. The composition keeps busy and mobile; it never lets seems to slow or lose its momentum. From the introductory crackles and pops, stylistic shifts are presented; multiple genre sounds are thrown in- it is a rich and variegated composition. When our hero lets his voice swoon and seduce, the composition is appropriately smooth and sensualised- kicking back and ensuring every note hits its mark. When electrified and urgent, the music matches this level of luster- strings and beats augment and rise in partnership. It is the vocal itself that impresses the most. Making every word sound convincing and utterly essential, Fola provides his more assured and stunning performance to date. Gone are the vocal treatments and Auto-Tune moments; the sound and sensation is of a naked and unmodified voice- one that packs an incredible punch. Taking in some sensations of Prince and Usher, the mixture of sweetened falsetto and velvet sensuality elicits some terrific reactions. Weaving and changing projection, the vocal matches the mobility and unexpectedness of the composition itself- making sure the song is insanely fresh and gripping. Overall you are left with a track that seems perfectly suited for the summer weather. It has such an insatiable and relaxing vibe, it is perfect for those lazy days and beach-side parties; able to soundtrack epic drives and long journeys, it is a song that has no boundaries. Able to unify balkanized clans of music-lovers, it supersedes and breaks barriers- it is not a song restricted to club members of R ‘n’ B and Soul. The relentless passion and elliptical promise (the track provides) means it is a ubiquitous and universal slice- a number that reminds you of better times.

A lot of my own cynicisms have been dispelled and eradicated. When I look at an artist’s biography- and see the words ‘X Factor‘ mentioned within- I am predisposed to balk and scoff with derision. It is understandable: my sense of irritability and rage is shared by the majority. Fola is an artist that has caused some creative inspiration and direction- my own music has been given a kick of new life. There are a lot of artists- on the scene- who project R ‘n’ B-cum-Soul machinations; sprinkle in some Pop gold-dust- ensure the resultant hybrid is as exciting as possible. Few contemporaries have a flair and quality that marks them aside from their peers- Fola is a talent with a clear identity and instantly resonating music. Comfortable is a cool and seductive slab that is impossible not to like- it has hallmarks of past giants, whilst retaining a very modern and personal voice. The London-based artist is going to make moves the rest of this year- including the release of his E.P.; make sure you keep your eyes peeled and trained. Being a fan and devotee of the likes of Michael Jackson and Smokey Robinson, I can hear that same blend of power, sweetness, passion and raw emotion- the deep and mesmeric words; the catchy and addictive codas- there is no reason to suggest Fola should restrict his sites and ambitions. With the music industry being tightly-packed and jostling, it is important to ensure those with genuine potential are given breathing room- allowed to move and grow with little repression. I have not heard all of Promise Land– I have surveyed the full body of Fola’s past. Seeing a development and evolution, the young star is getting stronger and more determined with each release- he is not contended to stick with one voice and style; changing and developing his art in accordance with his inspirations and desires. As I said up top: London is starting showcase some immensely promising musical talent. Having been suitably blown away by Dana McKeon’s blend of Beatbox-Pop and Soul, I did not think the capital had the ability to surprise and confound- bring out more acts like Fola and we shall see something incredible happening. Musicians- located elsewhere- are progressing and relocating to London; their itinerant and sojourn ambitions are seeing them settle and rest in the capital. It seems like the burning and white-hot hub for creativity and inspiration: an area of the world where so many different styles and genres are being represented. I do not think reality/talent shows are the most evil thing in the world; they are at least wholly unnecessary and cancerous- the artists that win the contests have provided no difference and quality to the music industry; their disposability and brevity is highly irritating. The acts that choose to do things honestly and without motive- the only reason you go on a talent show is for shallow fame and publicity- are going to be the ones the public will embrace and proffer. Too few innovative and surprising musicians arrive in the mainstream- new music tends to offer the best choice and sense of ambition. It will be fascinating to see what Fola does next- whether he brings out an L.P. or reinvents himself; takes his music across the world or focuses his energies on the here and now- whatever he has in mind, it is likely to be met with support and excitement. Before I wrap things up- and prime my mind for a new act and sound- I want to offer up some advice and tips- for new acts coming through. So many samey and predictable Indie bands get filtered through- the vague and unpalatable sludge that forms is causing tarnish and depression. Being a well-represented genre, a lot of the public are turning their attentions elsewhere- looking for music that differs and provides unfamiliar sensation. With the exception of some noticeable and well-known mainstream (and newly-bred Soul and R ‘n’ B artists), they are few and far between. When the alchemy is perfected; that potion and concoction is mixed with the right balance of ingredients, something wonderful can be stirred- strike the balance of sexiness and restrain and you are onto a winner. Comfortable is a song that has a soothing and sweaty heart; its soul is emotional and determined; its tongue sharpened and sexualised- the combustible coloured sands are mesmerising and eye-catching indeed. If you are unfamiliar with Fola and his past work- make sure you set time aside and investigate it with full creativity. His forthcoming E.P. is a bold statement from a deeply exciting and talented proposition- an artist that gives the music world an infusing slice of salacious cool and red-hot vibrancy. His voice and delivery is hard to ignore; his words universal and personal (all at once). If you are stuck for ideas this weekend…

LET Fola’s magic take your mind away.

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Album Review: All The Best Tapes- All The Best Tapes


All The Best Tapes

All The Best Tapes


All The Best Tapes cover art

All The Best Tapes is available from:


I Want To Believe9.5/10.0
Nine Masks9.6
Life Of Gold9.5
Conservatoria in Threes9.4
The Iron Rod9.6
New Ribs9.6
Soft Light9.4
I’ve Been Bored Since 9/119.6
We Judged It By The Waves9.7

We Judged It By The Waves

Nine Masks, The Iron Rod, New Ribs, I’ve Been Bored Since 9/11, We Judged It By The Waves

13th June, 2014

Bob Cooper & All The Best Tapes at H.Q. Studios, Manchester, U.K.

Paul Hundeby at City Pro Recording, Florida, U.S.A.

FXD Records

Punk, Hip-Hop, Metal, Hardcore, Punk-Rap, Screamo


Guided by the likes of At the Drive-In, The Ramones and Bad Brains; the Stoke-based trio provide raw and exhilarating songs- mixed with unexpected compositions (and surprises) they are a mobile army of sound. Visceral and direct; teasing and experimental, All The Best Tapes certainly leave impressions


AFTER reviewing a run of tracks- from solo acts mostly…

I am stepping back into album territory. It is great to hear a band arrive with such a bang and fervency. My featured act has released a couple of records before- nothing as complete and explosive as their album. I shall investigate the band in more depth, yet want to bring up a couple of points. The first issue revolves around musical geography. Too many bands seem to be emanating from very particular spots- not a bad thing; it means that there is compartmentalisation and a division. London is hosting a fair few dynamic and stunning bands- solo acts too- that are capable of making huge splashes in the future. Up in Yorkshire- Leeds particularly- there are masses of new acts poking out- many of which I have reviewed. Whilst there are heavy and primal sounds coming from some Leeds-based Grunge masters; a fair amount of melody and beauty from the capital’s finest- finding artists (in-between- these areas)- is a hard task. Recently I reviewed the Devon-based band Lightknife; I have assessed some artists from Bristol, Southampton and Surrey- this is a rarity. Today I am looking towards the Midlands- a region that I am not overly-familiar with. Having a grand and busy musical history (a fair few bands have come from these locales)- not many new musicians emanate from here. It is a strange thing- when you think about where bands hail from- but there must be a collocation and reason (behind it). Obviously, London is making impressions due to the size of the city; the sheer number of musicians living here. Yorkshire is thriving because of the same reason- there are so many eager musicians there it is impossible to see a decline in quality and output. Elsewhere, you start to imagine what could be causing (a restriction). It may take some figuring out: for now, I am glad that a Midlands group is in my thoughts. In addition to being one of the most enlivening and exciting acts at the moment, they are putting Stoke back on the musical map. More associated with Robbie Williams- Slash was actually born there too- you will not get the two acts confused- our boys are a trippy and primal group that would make Williams wet his underwear. Having fallen in love with the likes of Allusondrugs- and spending the last week reviewing softer sounds- it is good to be back in gritty and lusting territory. Diversity and range are essential in music- ensuring that we have a great spread of artists leads to prosperity and a strong future. The Midlands boys not only take the listener to a busy and under-appreciated area for music; they provide a mixture of sounds I have not heard played. Their love of Psychedelia and Grunge marries with Prog. and Hardcore considerations- the resultant potion has been knocking people off their feet. Too many bands play things safe and predictably: not looking to fuse and experiment, they stick with what is familiar and tested. All The Best Tapes have built up a solid reputation and name: their previous work has captured critics and upped momentum and intrigue- bringing them to the here and now. With their self-titled album wetting mouths and setting tongues wagging, I better introduce the act to you:

Marcus Barker: Vocals & Guitar.
Luke Medlock: Bass, Vocals & Programming.
Danny Beardmore: Drums

Formed in the Post-Industrial wasteland of Stoke and Cast from a heavy obsession with Aliens, The Occult, Psychedelia and mind-bending sounds, All The Best Tapes fuse the melodious Chordal technicalities of Fusion Jazz, the grit of Hardcore and the shameless riffage of tripped out Prog into a glorious cacophony of skull fucking power. A departure from their previous offerings “This is not a record, This is All The Best Tapes” and “The Gnar” All The Best Tapes strip down to a three-piece to create a new wave of effects laden, cutting edge punk rock.”

When new acts come through, you can always see some restrictions and limitations from the off. Their initial moves have some timidity. All The Best Tapes went in hard and meaningful: listening to the likes of The Gnar tells you all you need to know- here is an act that mean business. Their huge range of influences- from Kate Bush to MC5- have been thrown into the mix- the sheer range of sounds and diversions they incorporate makes their music so intense and layered. Their album expands on early promise and gives a full summation of the boys- across the nine songs, you barely have chance to breathe; the passion and urgency that screams out is hard to brush off. It is not just the band’s pioneering blend that makes them so special- the quality and addictiveness of their songs stick in your mind. Not just a group that make a hell of a noise and racket; the lads ensure all of their numbers are deep and fascinating- some of their compositions and lyrics are among the finest I have heard this year. With the mainstream offering some spaces and gaps; it is high time that listeners and music-lovers embrace what new music is showcasing- welcoming the finest we have (and promoting their name). If the likes of Allusondrugs have shown anything; it is that by mixing heavy and brutal codas (with nuanced and more composed lines)- a huge amount of atmosphere and evocation can be elicited. All The Best Tapes have a bond that cements their music tightly- the sympatico and friendships they share makes all of their sounds come across as urgent and authoritative. The leaps forward they have taken- since their earliest work- shows a band that are getting better as they progress. The confidence and spirit they put out on their album makes you wonder just how more potent and effective they can become- they are an act that will certainly be making music for a while longer. Making such a fascinating and original sound, it seems the trio are going to have their sights set on the future- their momentum and passion leads me to believe they will be formulating new sounds and releases before too long. Before I get down to focusing on the band- and their music- I will conclude by stating just how impressive new music is. Strengthening and confounding by the month, I am always stunned by just how brilliantly-realised and bold fledgling sounds are- there are no jitters and false moments. Bands are dipping back into musical history; being inspired by their heroes and heroines- daring to incorporate a myriad of diverse and disconnected sounds together; to elicit something wonderful and fresh. All The Best Tapes have a huge cannon of favourite musicians; they do not limit their sites to specific genres and decades- meaning their ensuing sounds are as full-bodied and colourful as any you will hear.

Looking back at the work of All The Best Tapes and you get a glimmer of how they started out. On their debut, you got that exhausting and exhilarating listen. Songs such as Old Device demonstrated this primal and animalistic urge. The track builds and tempts the listener in. Melodic and restrained beginnings give way to pummel and rumble- the intro. expands and feasts without warning. Determined and raw vocals come to play- screeched and bellowed with lustful fury. Breathless and determined, the song never lets go of you. It is a Hardcore thrash; a Punk rush that is determined to get mosh pits excited and bustling. Pious Fool has warped and spacey starts. The Psychedelic/Prog.-Rock influences present themselves. With some touches of Muse and The Mars Volta it is warped and fascinating- completed with a Libertines-esque riff, you are drawn in. Eager to allow determination to succeed, the vocal then bursts and shouts. Propelled by constant percussive slams; an endless and smashing drive makes the track burrow into your brain. There are melodic areas and avenues that allow reflection and chance for refrain- the song has some great quiet-loud dynamics. Caterpillarism twangs and twiddles at the start; the Foo Fighter-esque anthemic intro. puts your mind in Indie/Grunge avenues- the track contorts and twists with abandon. One of the band’s most intriguing cuts, it has the potential to superpose Hardcore and Punk boundaries- find its way onto stations like XFM and Absolute. The Gnar saw the band become more ambitious and varied. All of the early hallmarks remained in place- the vocals particularly had no intention of calming down. Le Fingers has haunted and twisted lyrics. The songwriting is sharper and more fascinating; deeper and more varied- disturbed souls and skulls are featured here. Blood-curdling and deathly, the vocal flair and roar matches the intensity of the composition. Seven Pairs of Scissors gets down to business from the off- hardcore thrashes grab the listener by the throat. There is lyrical economy and concision here- the words are not needlessly unfocused and rambling; they are tight and measured. Poetic elements marry with direct and savage proclamations. Sweeter vocal interjections mix with spaced-out bliss- sharp shocks arrive to take you off of your feet. The title track is longer and more epic- than Seven‘- and begins with a pummeling and rambunctious percussion intro. Reminding me of Moby Dick by Led Zeppelin, it is a tantalising start. Byzantine and weird snatches of lines look at volcano haircuts and tour life- having no money and stealing as you go. The band show development and growth- from their debut. The lyrics are more fascinating and compelling- the stories and scenes they offer have more depth and story. The vitriol and anger is more overt and striking- the vocal performances are more impassioned and full. Mixing in some sweeter and more controlled moments, the compositional range increases and augments- the performances are tighter across the board. The current offerings (on their album) show more steps and progressions. Again, the band increase their confident and adventurousness. The palette become more varied and multicoloured; the themes and issues explored change too. I Want To Believe has stutter and sting; tumbling musical notation means there is a heady and unpredictable energy that runs through it. Vocal work is as focused and primal as any I have heard- less guttural at the beginning, I can detect the hallmark highs of The Gnar. Life Of Gold skips and catches you by surprise; the intro. is more Rock/Indie-influenced; calmer and softer than previous offerings. A bigger and wider track, the song builds and layers- that mixture of approachable personality and pained belting fuses perfectly- nothing sounds inorganic and forced. Changing direction and skin, the song is endlessly mobile and shifting. New Ribs goes back to frantic and desperate; the band elicit one of their most pressing and violent performances- it is a track that once more is destined for mosh-pit fights. Rousing the listener into a frenzy, it bowls you over with its sheer energy. I’ve Been Bored Since 9/11 is one of the most interesting cuts off of the album. A single release, it is more relatable and lovable. Whilst there are some controversial lyrics and subjects, the boys are not trying to terrorise and rebel against sanity- their songbook is packed with some standout and quotable lyrics. Not adding too much more, the band remain firm and solid. The Gnar was a big leap forward and was the most solidified the band have sounded. Their self-titled album is more ambitious and open; new sounds are mixed in; some new subjects explored- in terms of the overall sound and flavour, you get some familiar and relatable moments. The band did not need to reinvent themselves and improve too much- what we have now is the most rounded and defined representation of All The Best Tapes. The band performances are as tight as ever; the vocal sound is more rounded and solidified- a greater emotional range is presented now. With compositions that draw in multiple genres and diversions, the band have never sounded as alive and meaningful. It will be great to see where they go from here- if a new album or E.P. will come through. You can guarantee whatever comes will be imbued with the same headiness and raw energy (as their previous outings)- the boys are building in stature and momentum; focusing their sights on the future.

If you are looking for some other bands- that compare with All The Best Tapes. Being a Hardcore-Punk band, it is quite hard to draw in too many influences- it is not one of the most over-represented genres in music. The band themselves have a huge a list of influential bands; from U.S. to U.K. artists, the boys have clearly absorbed a lot of different artists. The Ergs! are a Punk-Rock U.S. band that have won legions of fans. When listening to the band’s (2007) album Upstairs/Downstairs, you get a dizzying listen. Songs range from a few seconds to 18 minutes; the head is spun and blown apart by the lack of consistency and predictability. The breakneck pace and ramalama melodies whiz by. The tracks all seem to end in an instant- they are so addictive and compelling that you have to listen to the album to draw it all in. Bratty and charming songs mix with some juvenile and infantile offerings- the band mix clever and smart with puerile. Although less silly than previous albums, there is still comedy and humour to be found. There is plenty of maturity and focus on the album- it certainly ages well. All The Best Tapes have a similar talent for mixing humour and pathos; portraying that frantic and frenetic pace- drawing the listener in for a thrill-ride of intensity. Less silly than The Ergs!, the band do take some of their influence- capable of putting plenty of humour and witness into the darkest of tracks. Before I look at some more U.S. influences, I will mention an unusual name: Chumbawamba. The legendary Brits had a hugely successful career and have influenced a lot of bands- including the Stoke trio. Their Tubthumper album is probably their finest moment. Here, Chumbawamba mix big Dance-orientated beats with anthemic and party-ready sing-alongs. The Pop and Dance elements overtake political radicalism; the band ensure their music can be chanted from the terraces- there is laddishness and drunkenness; rebellion and defiance. All The Best Tapes draw this into their quiver: whilst not as chantable as the British icons, they do compel you to sing along and become invigorated- similarly rousing and fascinating, the band have political and socio-economic motivations. When you read some of the band’s lyrics, they rally against governmental forces; there is dissatisfaction to be found- angry young men being short-changed. Drunken nights and recklessness come to play too- like Chumbawamba, the boys recognise the vitality of youthfulness and lack of inhibitions. The cottage industry pioneers make sure all of their songs are intelligent and focused; distinct and memorable- later albums throw in more melodic vocals and sweeter Folk songs. All The Best Tapes showcase an intelligent side; mingle it with anger and rage and you have quite a concoction. Away from Punk bands, The Flaming Lips have had an effect on the endeavouring trio. If you look at The Flaming Lips’ album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, it topped many critics’ end-of-year polls. Haunting as it is splendid, the L.P. mixes lush electronic sympathy. Whilst the band have more sunshine and upbeat sedimentation (than All The Best Tapes), the best comparisons are uncovered when digging deeper- the ruminations of everyday struggle and survival. Older and more traditional- for The Flaming Lips- values mixed with new experiments and sentimentality. The album Yoshimi‘ use psychedelic reveries from simple sounds and compositions- something more frantic always threatens to come out. The unorganised and primal rushes look at battles and wars; fighting forces of repression and hardship come out. The album looked at metal warriors and robotic controllers- if you look at All The Best Tapes, it draws a lot of comparables. The music has developed from the early days; mixes bittersweet themes within psychedelic swathes; huge and epic landscapes- the height of the band’s creative output. The anguish and pain that The Flaming Lips put into their current moves- The Terror– shows there is fear and black hole rage. All The Best Tapes match this level of inflagration and fire- the lyrics (by both bands) do not go for the obvious; they investigate deep themes but present some oblique and poetic moments. The Ramones are a Punk act that seem to have ressonated with the trio. Having taken a lot of guidance from U.S. sources, it seems that the hard and frantic American bands do things best. Albums such as Subterranean Jungle took Hard-Rock riffs and joined them with a Punk heart. The album is alive with meaning and energy; it draws audiences in and is the most pleasing of their mid-career efforts- subtle rhythms and hook-laden tracks mark the album out as one (of the band’s) finest. The vitality and sheer urgency of the disc calls for repeated listens. If you witness the self-titled debut- from The Ramones- you hear those early signs of genius. The album was a firecracker in the Rock mainstream: unexpected and rare, it redefined music. The themes and lyrics are simple; the songs are back-to-basics gems; lust and need are projected with as much guts and violence as you could imagine- wit, weirdness and lust spilled from the speakers. The blinding speed and relenetlessness can be applied to All The Best Tapes– from the very first notes they do not give you a chance to rest. Twisted takes on Pop convention make the Stoke trio a like-minded act; they subvert expectations and conventions to provide something radical and bone-shaking- the intoxicating rampancy of each number gets under your skin. Whilst All The Best Tape‘s songs aren’t always as concise as those within The Ramones, you cannot deny that comparable vigour and youthful anger. Horror schlock, maniacal stupidity and gleeful violence came through in The Ramones’ finest work- it is something that our endeavouring trio have taken on board. City Of Ifa and Allusondrugs are two modern bands that should be mentioned. Whilst not direct influences, you can draw some lines between the groups. The experimental movements City Of Ifa present define their sound- they are a pioneering and ambitious group that mix Screamo with Prog.-Rock facets- mixed together it is a heady and stupefying blend. All The Best Tapes take elements of Prog. masters and provide their own Screamo take- they are a similarly urgent and passionate band. Allusondrugs instill Grunge glory with some Punk and Hardcore shades- their fiery and enraptured codas are enlivening and seducing Yorkshire crowds. Having been booked for the Leeds Festival, the band are striking a chord- the public want to hear more of their scintillating music. All The Best Tapes have a level of grit and blood-lust that matches the Yorkshire outfit: their songs are as packed and atmospheric; the vocals as gripping and intense- you imagine festival spots are awaiting the Stoke boys. Being a fan of Bad Brains, I can hear some of the Americans in All The Best Tapes. The Thrash-Metal-cum-Hardcore minglings cemented the band as one of the most evocative and potent in the U.S.- influencing everyone from Nirvana to Jeff Buckley. The band’s self-titled debut was a cassette-only issue; the propheteers of Punk turned into Heavy Metal gods- over the course of a track. The rage is channelled into positivity and drive. When their I Against I album dropped, the declaration of violence was a focused and concise work. Funneling all their influences together, the band used bel canto baritone; screeching falsetto- the visceral and beautiful tie together. Here, the group present passionate refrains and tender moments; virtuosic displays are as synonymous as raw directness and demented blisters. The vocals range from machine gun-fire delivery to considered and teasing- the same elements All The Best Tapes draw together. The rampant and staggering Metal and Hardcore jams- Bad Brains have perfected- inspire legions of bands (whether they know it or not) and you can hear embers within All The Best Tapes– that same inimitable sense of surprise and quality. There are a few more names I should mention here. At The Drive-In count as one of the Stoke band’s influences. Cedrix Dixier’s ferocity and incomparable vocal luster made albums like Acrobatic Tenement so special. The way the songs contains subtlety and nuance mean softness and melody sit alongside fury and vermilion rage. Tempo shifts and rhythm changes make the album endlessly fascinating- something that All The Best Tapes have employed. The trio ensure that their songs are not one-dimensional and samey. Snaking and edgy bass notes combine with dual guitars and edgy percussion- the same qualities you can hear in Acrobatic Tenements. Catchiness and power fuses with intense and driving Punk riffs; the Texan band consecrated this in In/Casino/Out. The last two acts I will mention are MC5 and Fugazi. The former are U.S. legends that changed the face of music with Kick Out the Jams. The album remains one of the most immediate and timeless Punk/Hardcore records ever made. On that album, the entire band were in-tune and in-step. The ferocity and firepower of the guitars, bass and percussion were only matched by the authoritative and thunderous vocals. The firepower and back-breaking pace of the songs threatened to combust at any moment- the band gained legendary status in next to no time. While MC5 incorporate more tender and restrained numbers, you can draw comparisons- with All The Best Tapes. If you have not heard of Fugazi, then you should do- not only have their inspired the Stoke trio; they are a phenomenal and underrated group.Also inspiring the likes of Blur, their legacy is timeless. Repeater was the debut effort (from Fugazi)- an album that hit the ground running. Later works such as In on the Kill Taker stepped away from the early sounds: rusty and nail-scraping guitars joined with unappetising moments. Whilst the force and unending urgency of the album can be seen as off-putting- Screamo and Hardcore is not that digestible- the tracks offer plenty of treats and recommendations. Diverse tracks see lurching and crawling numbers sit with explosions of aggression- the sequencing across the band’s back catalogue is impressive. All The Best Tapes ensure they are as smart and considerate- when it comes to tracklisting. Liveliness, twisted humour; random skronks and plinking notes nestle within gut-kicking and brainy acidity. Fugazi are still producing music and evolve from album to album- offering something new into the bargain. All The Best Tapes place off-kilter and random notes inside atomic bomb blasts; ear-shattering emotional larceny- they seem the U.K. equivalent of Fugazi. If you are inclined towards any of these acts- you should check out All The Best Tapes. If you are off-out by any adjectives and descriptions; balk at the idea of relentless force and urgency- you should still give the music a try. Melody, experimentation and beauty lingers where you least expect it. The Stoke band have perfected their own blend and want to embrace listeners- not repel them. If you seek music that gets you invigorated and builds you up, investigate the group- you won’t regret it.

The blushes of silence are spared instantly by I Want To Believe. A clattering and tumbling psychedelic intro. gets things off to the races. Putting me in mind of The Mars Volta and At the Drive-In, it is a dizzying and head-spinning way to kick the album off. Melodious and catchy, you are caught up in it. Soon, it levels off and continues its aural assault- that colourful and insatiable gleefulness elicits a smile of contentment. Before long, our hero approaches the mic. Words “proof positive” reflect across the night; the light reflects across the sky. The determination and passion of the vocal rules the sound; you cannot get away from the urgency of the delivery. Calm, measure and melody still linger in the background- the song is not too forceful and overwhelming. With the vocal growling and graveled, you wonder how he has any vocal chords left- it is impressive how strong and consistent that primal belt is. Dissatisfaction and discontent seems to be on our hero’s mind- he is angered and striking against the world. As with previous All The Best Tapes releases, byzantine and oblique lyrical snatches mix with the direct and potent- the band like to ensure that things are not too simplistic or detached. The light splits “across the sky“- images and scenes fill your mind; apocalyptic perhaps or slightly less epic, the atmosphere is built and expanded. Backed by a militaristic and pummeling percussive smash, the avalanche never relents. A lot of emphasis is put on mood and force as opposed to clarity. Lacking lyric accompaniment, some of the words will get lost among the effusive and rifled projection- the most vital snatches are intelligible and clear. Having to piece together the story through occasional glimmers of clarity, you focus upon composition and vocal- both of which press on the brain. The warped and spacey composition is robotic and intergalactic- juddering and evolving it beeps and crawls; evolves and strikes. Mixing the psychedelic Prog.-Rock of The Mars Volta with some of the vibrancy of Bad Brains, the parable catches the imagination- the transformations and delineation is stunningly realised and fascinating. With our hero spitting against repressive forces- “you’re not making it up“- the demented charm of the composition comes into play- those colours and lines combine to create some mesmeric moments. Tumbling and dizzy guitar spirals unite with scattershot percussion; electronics buzz and percolate- the vocal growl is lustful and pugnacious. The band’s incredibly tight and impressive performance stands the song out- creating the most effective and direct opener I have heard. Towards the final stages, a kick-ass and white-hot guitar riff bounces and jumps: restrained and measured it is a catchy and indelible punch that takes the song in a new direction- stretches your brain open. Mingling At the Drive-In, Fugazi and MC5, the boys whip up some Punk flair and rabble for the closing seconds- it slows in the closing seconds bit by bit; a gorgeous and lilting last note gives the song a Calypso/tropical feel. Having covered so much ground and blown the mind, the boys do not let the pace drop. Nine Masks begins more strikingly and harder. That same mixture of high and low notes- on guitar and bass- project colours and myriad emotions- the restless and ambitious introduction gets your feet and fists pumping. Swaying Blues-Rock guitars pervade behind Punk/Metal-tinged percussion- the combination combines melody and harmony with raw sexuality and grit. The mesmeric unpredictability shows its hand again. The composition slams and feasts on bones; it drops down and starts to stumble- before calming and seamlessly blending into tranquil and romantic calms. Our hero takes his voice from blood-curdling into reflective within the space of a few seconds. Perhaps aimed at his sweetheart he asks: “Did you ever think of me?“- they are such the perfect pair. The passionate and springing bass adds some luster and majesty; the Blues-cum-Jazz combination is a beautiful treat- the sweet falsetto vocals a perfect instrument for reflection and personal introspections. Gripped by a new sound, your mind is eased. Turning the mood on a dime, the song explodes and carpet bombs. From the calm of before, we go into Metal/Screamo territory- the vocal bellows and growls like Satan on fire; the guitars stagger and violate; the percussion joins the frenzy. Still mixing in some sweeter and breathy notes and vocals, the juxtapositions are incredible- one half of your brain is enraptured in the delirium; the other soothed by the gentility of the interjections. Taking our hero aside, the composition is given chance to roost: the spindling and delirious riffs marry some Mars’-esque psychedelia with the Indie anthemics of Foo Fighters and The Libertines- the band are able to be distinct and populist all at the same time. You can sense some disarray under the skin of our hero- the insatiable and blinding switch from romantic to blood-lusting is phenomenal- by the final moments you find yourself running out of breath. Impressed by the continued determination and passion (of the band), it is another song that gets into your mind- howling execrations and paens of vengefulness. After an emphatic 1-2, you wonder just what Life Of Gold will offer up. The opening moments retain the band’s distinct and familiar sound- the initial phases here are more buoyant and celebratory. Gone are the devilish rushes and insanity to be replaced by something spring fresh and harmonised. Imbued with plenty of power, the opening riff has charm a-plenty. Stormy and weather-proof, the mixture of sensations elicited strike the imagination- its simplicities and complexities subvert expectations and ready you for the ride that is forthcoming. Becoming hardened and more projectile, the juddering and snatching guitars focus. Echoed and held, the electronics are punctuated by snaring and rifled percussion- the blend of eerie-cum-atmospheric builds the tension and sense of occasion. Dreams have been wasted and there is perturbation summoned from our frontman: his voice is reliably firm and rampant. Mixing that blend of quiet and loud, the song transforms and mutates as it progresses- positivity comes into effect as the words develop; there is less overt discrimination and rebellion here. Sounding less castrated and more concentrated, the vocal performance is as emphatic and interchangeable as the previous number. Amazed at how much weaponry the band have at their disposal, the composition and stylisations transmogrify and evolve- the boys are not contended to rest on laurels and offer nothing but feral noise and attack. After a hypnotic and unexpected trio (of songs), Conservatoria in Threes intrigues you with its title alone. A short song, we see hell-fire, brimstone and the “face of God” lobbied into the song (with nary a by-your-leave). Wasting no time with introductions and welcomes, the band launch straight into the vocal organism. Catching you by surprise, you swear you are entering the song at the one-third mark- it is a disarming and unexpected moment. After you compose your thoughts, you start to relax. The switch between ecstatic and rushing- calmed and reflective concessions- occurs in short bursts: there is not the same experimentation and freewheelin’ sound (as with previous tracks). More level-headed and simple than the opening trio, the track is by no means minor or second-best- its beauty comes with focus. The composition concentrates less on diversity and multifariousness; more towards emotion and atmosphere- the band combine seamlessly to back up the hero. With his voice shifting from sweet and ethereal- to animatistic and urgent- the song provides a cleansing and much-needed interval- another glimpse into the band; their indefatigable breadth of adventurousness and ambition. The Iron Rod arrives next. Squalling and raptured guitar coda gets things under way- teed up by a rampant and lascivious percussive weave, our hero is keen to come to the mic. A buffet and banquet of dark and fragmented images. Highlighted by vocals- which switch from bellowing and satanic to measured and spectral- the song packs a huge punch. The band ensure that your body is not allowed to rest or settle; the amount of intrigue and colour they provide is impressive. Between the bellicose and frantic Death-Metal/Hardcore slams, there are beautifully reflective and intelligent Jazz-Rock parables. Reminding me of Aja-era Steely Dan, its breezy and effortless beauty contrasts brilliantly with the rabble and desperation of the vocal. Displaying the conviction and authority as the likes of Bad Brains, At the Drive-In and MC5, the boys keeps things mobile and fascinating. The amount of consideration and thought put into the composition tells you how much the song means to them- you can hear the passion and work they have incorporated; there are no lazy or loose moments. Towards the two-thirds mark, there is an extended instrumental swathe. The lads subtly build the tension and augment their centrifuge of kaleidoscopic Jazz notations. By the 2:41 stage, urgent and emotive guitar notes start to infuse and commingle- the track slowly develops and you sense that a final explosion is going to occur. Becoming more twisted and snarling, The Iron Rod is not done with its attack- our hero is coming back. Ensuring his messages and voice are not forgotten, the sense of urgency and determination resonate strong. New Ribs is a track that has been gathering critical acclaim and attention. One of the L.P.’s longer tracks, it begins with a vocal assault. Coming in hard and fast, the vocal is as ecstatic and to-the-point as it has ever been- managing to restrain itself and switch voices. Fatigue and insomnia are lobbied in- the lack of sleep is making the hero feel so tired. The guitars- on the track- demonstrate a new side and sound: trippy and experimental, they mix Psychedelia, Indie, Rock and Pop. Not as virulent and barbed wire as on previous offerings, there is a greater consideration towards emotion and support. The vocal is at its more interesting and unexpected: between sighing and delicate soothes are violent and raged bursts- that mixture is quite a psychotropic and heady proposition. Displaying as much range as in any song, our hero showcases the quality and limitlessness of his voice- giving the words and track depth and authority. Once more, the band tempt in some sun-kissed and Jazz-infused notes- romantic and seductive, they add something extra to proceedings. After the sheer rush and pace of the tracks, it is a surprise to find that Soft Light is the ante-penultimate cut. Beginning with some gentle and elliptical notes, the track soon ensures that anger and explosion are provided. Subsuming the title’s promise, that ecstatic 180 begins a violated and rebellious vocal assault- our hero produces one of his most insatiable and frenzied vocal performance. Able to provide ample light and relax, the majority of the performance is taken up with inflamed and pissed-off projection. Supported by an army of juddering and brain-melting sounds, the song is a spares no-one. Our frontman is at his most impassioned and direct here. The way he manages to snake his voice is incredible: shifting course and pace, it is one of the most distinct performances on the set. When calmed and emotive, I caught glimmers of Terrence Trent D’Arby and Thom Yorke- believe it or not. Few modern vocalists have such a multifarious and staggering range- the band provide equal mesmerisation. Bass notes drive and attack; they then merge into jazzy and trickling. The guitars have sting and venom the one moment; transforming into relaxed and sedate before you know it- the percussion has a similar unpredictability and surprise. A modicum of reflection and calm is offered during the final moments: the composition keeps clattering and pervading; it is not as insatiable and repressed as previously. The single I’ve Been Bored Since 9/11 causes tongue-wagging before a note has been uttered. Whichever way you interpret it, you cannot deny its immediacy and urges. The intro. starts with a frantic percussive tumble; instantly dissipating and giving way to melodic guitar, the band unite all of their previous highs into the mix. After a brief grab for glory, our hero comes into the spotlight. That endless sense of urgency is represented in various different shades. Grumbled and bellowed vocals are mingled with strained and wracked utterances. The dislocation and anger come through with alarming directness and meaning. Our frontman ensures that his voice and words are heard- the unease and anxiety is not uncomfortable, egregious or off-putting; it is insistent and gripping. The guitar work is particular stand-out during the track. Weaving and tripping, there is a heady and swirling majesty created- strained and vibrating notes are tempted into proceedings. Not succumbing to the heady highs of previous numbers, the vocal is more concerned with concentration and focus- ensuring the messages and central missive resonates. Trippy and weird, the guitars incorporate Robert Fripp, The Mars Volta and Muse- the combinations of unrelated notes is a tantalising treat. The music- when All The Best Tapes compose- mix various styles and themes; incorporating various styles, whatever feels right goes into the music. Throughout I’ve Been Bored Since 9/11, you can tell a lot of study and thought has been expended. The musicianship and experimentations are impressive; so many different emotions and contours are explored- it is perhaps the richest and most rewarding song on the album. Perfectly priming the senses for the album’s swan-song. The longest track on the album, We Judged It By Waves starts with a reliably exciting and action-packed beginning. The boys weave colours and tapestries together; the combination of Psychedelic freestyle and Jazz-inspired motifs come together exquisitely. Hard and vengeful, the opening onslaught pricks the senses- readies you for what is to come. Open and expansive, the band allow the composition a chance to implore- so much ground and emotion is summoned up with the schizoid blends. Going out with a bang, the rampant and primeval percussion tees up electric guitar noodlings; the pace changes again and the boys let their instruments ignite. Compelling and gripping, the sheer rush and headiness of the intro. never relents- you wait for a vocal that seemingly never comes. Caught up in the mesmerising grip of the composition, the tight and incredible performance is a delirious and staggering treat. The song has such a flair for experimentation and Psychedelia: the band throw in so much weight and striations that you struggle to absorb it all. Juxtaposing hell-yeah fist-pummel and drunkening and drugged swagger, the listener is immersed in a whirlpool of insanity. Freak-outs of biblical proportions are overtaken by a carnivorous and yowling beast of a line. The percussion patters and tempts; the guitar echoes and echoes. Transforming the rampancy of previous efforts, the song mutates into something darker and shadowy. Atmospheric and hunting, this coda is traded with a brevity of attack- combining with one another, these diverse strands seem perfectly natural and essential. Pausing and resting, the band then offer explosions and rises. The pauses increase and elongate; a calmer and woozier smoke bellows in- it is hazy and delirious in its movements. Ethereal and ecumenical electronic sounds give the track a reverence and saintly side- sitting with the calmed guitar you are given chance for reflection and rest. All of the sonic words have been offered; so many different scenes and avenues have been explored- with a fading light, the track comes to an end. It completes a splendid album that is impossible to compare with anything else- it is one of the most immediate and relentless collections of the year.

It is quite a task trying to sum up a Herculean and epic album. There are hardly any negatives I can point at really. It would be great to see some lyrics accompany the album- perhaps on the BandCamp site. On previous efforts, All The Best Tapes put their lyrics together with the tracks- it would be good to see them accompany their album. Due to the intensity of the vocal and the attack of the composition, it can be hard interpreting and understanding a lot of the lyrics. Most of the words lack necessary intelligibility and decipherability- it is not a huge point however. Having the lyrics would allow interpretation and study: reviewers such as myself would be able to dig deeper and extrapolate true meanings and definitions. The album rarely lets up with its heaviness and assault- it means it can be an exhausting listen for the uninitiated. The album is best enjoyed and appreciated in chunks: sitting down and investigating a few songs at a time is the best way to start. These minor considerations do not detract from the fact All The Best Tapes is one of the most urgent and compelling albums of the year. It is not a huge drag that some of the words are lost; the emphasis is very much on the overall mood and sound. With incredible and perfect sequencing, the album does not lag or suffer any setbacks. The best tracks are appropriately arranged and deployed; the heavier and most primal numbers are spaced out- meaning you do not get fatigued and weighed-down. Although the production does mean the vocals lack complete clarity and concision, it perfectly blends all the various instruments and sounds. Such an ambitious and wide-ranging album would suffer- were the lines and notes mixed incorrectly. Due to some precise and expert production, the compositions are allowed to breathe and inspire- the listener is allowed to absorb all of the disparate strands and stories. Before I applaud the band’s players, I shall mention the songs themselves. Never aimlessly wandering and bloated, they are tight and focused missles. The longest tracks clock in at a few minutes; even the grand-standing finale leaves you wanting more. Their nuance and sheer weight really bowls you over. The band have stated- in interviews- how inspired they are by different genres; concerned with getting their sound just so- you can hear just how hard they have worked; how much effort has been expended. Each number offers glimpses of genius and mesmerisation- whether it is a riff or vocal projection, you are witnessing a band with few rivals and comparables. On that note, it is great to hear such immediate and primal music. So many bands have limits and barriers- All The Best Tapes seem to define themselves by how hard they can push and encapsulate- damned be any borders and rules. Although the album is predominantly heavy and overwhelming, it is not something that should be ignored or dismissed. If you are clever and considerate- when investigating- you will revel in its potency and charms. After a while all of the music reveals its beauty- you will be immune to any fractious and jarring elements. The band performances and turns are what makes the songs so incredible. Percussion work throughout is staggering. Eliciting the strength and pummle of a dozen octupuses, the flailing and pulverising moments put me in mind of Dave Grohl, John Bonham and Neil Peart. Beardmore marks himself out as one of the finest and more authoritative drummers in the U.K. Few percussionists are able to sound as effortless when pounding with fury- he is adept at offering something gentler and more inviting. When songs and vocals are more restrained, the percussion provides ample emotion and reflection. Not just a simple and one-directional performance, Beardmore creates scintillating fills and unexpected twists- showing the expertise and talent of a modern-day Grohl. The most urgent and primal moments of the album are created by the percussion and its emphatic guidance. Medlock’s contributions are stunning and mesmeric. In addition to offering spacey and trippy electronics; stunning programming- his bass work is phenomenal. Jazz-inspired and sexy the one moment; driving and guiding the next, the amount of force, rhythm, lyricism and passion is deeply impressive. The multi-instrumentalist colours the songs with his own inimitable and unique touches: combining seamlessly with his band, Medlock showcases a huge talent and impressive amount of skill. Most bass players tend to be in the band to keep songs levelled and together- not stepping far outside boundaries. Medlock summons the force and conviction of an entire band- able to weave so much richness and emotion into each song, the album would be weaker without him. When offering vocal support, he brilliantly backs our hero- his voice is incredibly diverse and striking; capable of lustful rage and tempestuousness- our man is a Jack-of-all-trades. Barker is the voice and guitarist that leads by (fine) example- one of the most arresting and phenomenal frontmen in all of music. I was staggered how strong and consistent his voice was- throughout the album- and stunned he did not shred his throat to bits. Few singers have such a huge range of emotions and styles at their disposal. Barker is just as natural and impressive when unleashing his falsetto beauty (as he is gripped in the intensity of delirious rage and aggression). Having been nurtured with Jazz, Folk and Hardcore influences, his voice draws all of this in- he is not just a point-and-shout Screamo merchant. Too many bands- who play similar music- have a lead with little variety and potential. In Barker, they have a genuine star- someone whose divine tones have a hell of a lot of potential. It will be great to see just where they explore on the next record. With some epic and electrifying shredding, our hero lets his axe run riot. Inspired by the likes of At the Drive-In and The Ramones, Barker mixes schizophrenic and psychedelic jams with Punk swagger- de-touring via Indie and Rock avenues. Never sounding unfocused or fragmented, his guitar work seamlessly bonds divisive and multitudinous sounds and genres together- giving the songs a solidity and uniformity. The entire band work wonderfully together: tight and focused, they are a unit that are unlikely to break up at any point- such is the brotherly bond, all of their music sounds utterly convincing and urgent. In All The Best Tapes they have demonstrated what a force they are. Maybe incapable of transforming cynics into fans, it will appeal and resonate with those whom seek depth and texture- lovers of music that dares to be different and better.

With all my words- nearly expounded- I have to come to a conclusion- point to the future of the band. If you are not a fan of Punk, Punk-Rap, Hip-Hop and Grunge then All The Best Tapes are an act that can convert your thinking- they inject plenty of calm, passion and melody into their direct and punchy mandates. The determination and ambition they demonstrate makes their album such a terrific treat- you are powerless to escape the wonders it offers forth. I hope the boys come down from their home venues and rock out London- take their music around the U.K. and think about wider considerations. Having cemented their reputation and name in the Midlands, the trio are on the warpath- after their album was released, they drew in a mass of new fans. I for one would love to see them in the live environment; check out how their recorded releases translate in the flesh- just what a force of nature they are. Having witnessed some fervent and striking bands come through, my mind struggles to take it all in- see just who is going to make it big in the future; which acts are going to remain in the memory. A few I have reviewed will have some short-term acclaim; others are sure to transcend to the mainstream- others leave me weighing things up. I feel All The Best Tapes will make it all the way to the halcyon and lofty heights- they will not want to get there too quickly. Keen to keep playing to local crowds and make honest and personal music, you can tell just how much fun the guys are having- they are determined to keep working and press on. With a sound and projection that is perfectly ready and primed for the venues and festivals (of the summer); it will only be a few years before the Stoke trio are a familiar name on the airwaves. Having digested their self-titled debut, the boys have a lot to say; they have anger and dissatisfaction in their minds- the way they channel it is alarming and captivating. It is not just rage that defines their motives and inspirations: the group have such a love for vintage and classic music, they stretch their palette and motifs to cover issues such as love, modern life and meaning. Everything is draped around electrifying and direct sounds; the performances are uniformly tight and together- the songs are nuanced; meaning you keep coming back to the album to seek out hidden meanings and new findings. Before I wrap things up, I will dovetail back to my point about musical geography. Leeds boys Allusondrugs are leading Yorkshire by the teeth; putting the county squarely in the music world’s sights. London are making sure they do not lag behind at all- the diversity and range coming through is staggering. As much as I yearn to hear new artists from these regions, I am more keen to seek out new and unexpected treasures. All The Best Tapes have a distinct and rare combination of sounds that means they stand out- not contented to follow the pack, the boys have more determination and urgency than most bands I have encountered. With that unbreakable and solid bond, the music on their album is scintillating, action-packed and colourful- investigate what they have to offer and find out for yourself. With a lot of bland and boring music still being trotted out; a huge amount of musicians not pushing boundaries and limits- it is always a relief when a brave and hungry act come along. Perhaps not powerful enough to sway those that prefer Pop and Jazz sounds, the boys will at least capture some new hearts- people who seek out musical swagger and lust will love All The Best Tapes. As the year progresses, the boys are continuing to play and seduce; taking their music around The Midlands. I hope they are thinking further south: train their methodology down my way and embrace the eager and hungry fans down here. Their music translates across the country; there are plenty of venues that would promote the lads. Whilst they keep plugging and pervading, I am keen to listen (again) to All The Best Tapes– an album that never lets go of you. If the Midlands (and Stoke) have any other similarly terrific bands waiting to press through, I will say this…

KEEP them coming.


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Track Review: Dana McKeon- Street Art


Dana McKeon

Street Art


Street Art is available from:

Purchase the E.P. Street Art at:


Written & Composed by:

Dana McKeon

Produced & Recorded by:

Treana Morris, Vernon Lake, Daniel Cassar, Dana McKeon

Main Vocals & Beatbox:

Dana McKeon

Backing Vocals:

Treana Morris, Vernon Lake, Dana McKeon

Instrumentation :

Treana Morris, Vernon Lake, Dana McKeon, Daniel Cassar

Music video by:

Take 2 Entertainment

Concept & Story:

Dana McKeon, Carlos Debattista, Abigail Mallia


Abigail Mallia


Mirko Galea, Julian Calleja

Director of Photography:

Mirko Galea


Isaac Fenech

Assistant Director:

Julian Calleja


Abigail Mallia


Mirko Galea

Makeup, Hair & Body Art:

 Justin Brincat

UV & Reverse Graffiti:

Moose Curtis, Amands Ericsson

Street Art E.P. Photography by:

Pink Portico

Artwork by:

Andrea Meli


Pop, Soul, Beatbox-Pop, Acoustic-Folk


Over the coming weeks, Dana McKeon will be seducing the nation’s capital. Having established her name and reputation in Malta, her blend of Beatbox (and Pop-cum-Soul) beauty stands her aside from the competition. Street Art is a vibrant, bursting and uplifting song (from one of the most fascinating artists currently working). If you need a redemptive and inspiring tale; something to compel the mind and heart- look no further…


I have been lucky enough to review a string of different…

songs, from some very diverse artists. Canadian bands that provide Grunge and Indie have sat alongside British Electro.Pop- every time a track comes to my attention I am provided with something new and alert. Giving me a chance to investigate an artist or band- in a wider sense- it also points as to what new music is coming up with. Not just contended to project the minimum of intrigue, the world’s freshest and most urgent acts are to be commended- the quality coming through is quite startling. It is not just the range and diversity that is impressive- the passion and conviction summoned is breathtaking. Because of this incredible competitiveness and choice, the market is going to see quite a battle- the artists that make it to the mainstream are those that truly separate themselves aside. There are loads of Indie bands; a lot of Pop acts- our fair share of Grunge acts. When someone comes along that gives the listener something unexpected and fresh- THAT is what is going to stand them apart. My featured artist is someone I am very excited about. Hailing from Malta, it gives me a chance to return to the country- a nation that has provided Fran Galea (Chess). One of my regular review subjects, Chess is one of Malta’s most distinctive and popular musicians- her stunning songs have won awards and airplay; she is going from strength-to-strength. Being a fan of Dana McKeon, Chess is familiar with her work- she has told me how impressed she is by the music and stunning effects it elicits. Keen to seek her out, I was bowled over by how approachable and friendly she is. Keen to connect with fans and followers, she is one of the nicest and warmest musicians out there- that personality is equalled by her scintillating and magnificent music. Before I introduce her to you, I want to mention (a practically unheard-of genre): Beatbox-Pop. Being a devoted boyfriend to London, I bask in the capital’s warmth as much (as my wallet will allow me)- my first port-of-call is always Covent Garden. Escaping from its cramped and tourist-packed lifts, I make my way out of the tube station- if you do so during a Friday evening, you are in for a treat. Leading into the weekend, a selection of Beatbox artists play outside of the station- their freestyle and stream-of-consciousness is exhilarating and hugely entertaining. Drawing in huge crowds, the vocals are phenomenal- they rap with authority; the tics and mannerisms are perfect; the passion and flair is electrifying. Sound effects are thrown in too; the Beatbox masters provide the sound of percussion, electronics and instruments- all siphoned through their elastic and multifarious pipes. Two things stagger me (when considering them): why do we not see more of them; how come it seems male-dominated? Perhaps there are parts of London- and the world- where there are a lot of female Beatbox purveyors- around London there seems to be far more men. The genre and style is something that instantly connects with people- tourists and pedestrians stop and are entranced; they applaud widely and are caught up- it is the most immediate and gripping form of music out there. Mixing in Pop and Soul elements- to Beatboxing- can give it an extra layer of beauty and style. Drawing in mainstream and contemporary touches makes it primed for glory. There is a huge gap and space waiting to be filled- there are so few Beatbox-Pop/Soul acts being played on commercial radio, it stuns me slightly. Dana McKeon is capable of bringing about a revolution- changing attitudes and giving the world a much-needed dose of magic. Being a new follower of hers, I have been seduced and overwhelmed by Street Art– in addition to her videos and collaborations. Having performed with the likes of Bruno Mars; enticed and inspired legions of people- it seems like a matter of time before she is familiar to everyone. Before I carry on, let me introduce her to you:

With her debut single Street Art topping the Airplay Charts in Malta and featuring on radio stations worldwide, Dana McKeon is making waves with her fresh Beatbox-Pop music. Dana is a Maltese singer-songwriter & international beatbox pioneer, having officially represented Malta and single-handedly putting the island on the Worldwide Beatbox Map. Dana’s music is a unique display of genre-fusion and versatility, showcasing world-class vocal percussion techniques, a captivating voice and synchronised multi-instrumentalisation. Her musical ventures have taken her all around Europe, with performances ranging from intimate, high-profile acoustic gigs to large-scale concerts where she got to turn up the volume for audiences of up to 5000, both solo and alongside her band.”
Top Gig Listings
Duke of Edinburgh Award Forum, 2012​
ft HRH Prince Edward, the Countess of Wessex & the President of Malta
The 2012 Paralympics, London
Coca-Cola Beatbox stage
Runway Gibraltar, 2013 | Runway Malta, 2012​​​
MTV Malta Music Week, 2010
World Beatbox Battle Convention, 2010
Malta Music Awards & Bay Music Awards​
Various festivals in the UK, Sweden, Germany, Finland & Malta
Track Record:
Female finalist (ranked #5) @ 2012 World Beatbox Championships
Female Vice-Champion @ 2012 & 2013 UK Beatbox Champs
1st place @ 2008 University of Malta’s Singer-Songwriter Showcase

Quite a stunning C.V. from one of most beautiful and talented musicians in the world. With the likes of McKeon putting Beatbox firmly on the map, she is capable of recruiting a mass of new followers- for anyone that may balk at the idea, then listen closely. If you have encountered street performers and their art- not been impressed by it- do not assume that McKeon is just the same. She has the phenomenal talent and ability; her music goes deeper and aims wider- marrying Pop, Folk and Soul into her cannon- the sounds she offers are as fully-rounded and stunning as any you will hear. That central Beatbox core is what gives the music such an urgent and vibrant grip- every note and lyric is nailed into your brain. In various reviews I have been complaining about some mainstream artists- how impersonal and detached they are. With little regard for their fans, they provide no transparency- regressing into the shadows, they are not exactly warm and welcoming. For this reason, you do not get a full impression of an artist- their music is the only source of biography. Dana McKeon is someone who appreciates the importance of connection- ensuring her music is available far and wide, she is one of the most open artists I have seen. With an official website that is bold and informative, the first image you see is her smiling face- the synonym and definition of her artistry. Wanting to ensure her sounds gain exposure and representation, Street Art is a song that sets the tone- a dazzling and unmatched display of raw talent. It is a song that you are hard-pressed to compare with any others; such is its distinction, the track will never shift from your mind- you repeat it just to get a grip of things; understand and take in all it has to offer. The Street Art E.P. is going to be the chance for the world to witness McKeon in her full glory- it will contain the same sort of treats and sounds as its self-titled lead-single. With new music providing a lot of great sounds, McKeon is going to be one of the biggest names to watch- her future is going to be very bright. Commentators on YouTube have provided ample praise for Street Art; reviewers and listeners have been keen to highlight its wonder- if is a fresh and sizzling cut from one of the country’s most promising and inspirational artists.

Street Art– the single and E.P.- sees McKeon collaborating and drawing in various instruments and sounds- it is the first example of our heroine going out on her own. Her singular and distinct personality is what comes through sharply; the true testament of an incredibly hungry and talented artist- it is worth looking back and seeing where she came from. In her past, McKeon has collaborated with a number of different artists- lending her voice to other musicians’ tracks. A few months back, McKeon collaborated with DJ Pioneer and TJ. Renowned in the underground and House scene, McKeon lent her vocals to the track Circles. Backed by some entrancing and insistent beats, our heroine puts her soulful blends into the mix. The song catches you with its energy and sense of passion. The lyrics see her drawing someone close in- they are not close enough; she seductively entrances them forth. Alluring and tender, the vocal is terrifically standout and impressive- it backs wonderfully with the insatiable and gripping beat. After the swelling and punchy intro, that sense of drive and relentlessness continues- providing a mixture of danger-cum-serenity. McKeon’s smooth and gorgeous vocal makes every word stick and resonate. Being one of her last words- before Street Art– is gave the world a taste of what she is capable of. Previous to that, McKeon played at Beat Box/Sofar London (#618). A live performance recording, Hip-Hop sounds begin a rushing and instant turn. Intoxicating and mind-melting vocal projections grab you right from the start. Our heroine’s Beatbox rushes and mannerisms are a wonder to behold- her frantic and unpredictable delivery is like few you have ever heard. Her voice summons the sounds of Trance beats; Hip-Hop percussions and trumpets- an entire urban orchestra is elicited. Drawing in some samples of James Brown, it is a mixtape of captivating scintillation- staccato and syncopated; pulverising and intense, you can not ignore her glory. Cinematic and epic; operatic and tender, McKeon demonstrates just why she is just a huge name. The same sort of flair and talent that made her name in London; hypnotised the London crowd- the reaction she gains (at the end) is ecstatic. Between this recording- and her collaboration- you get a full sense of what McKeon is capable of- the Beatbox luster and energy; the soulful and Pop-inspired passion. These threads and strands are tied together in Street Art. Beatbox beats are what we hear at the top- our heroine lets her vocals offer some percussion. The track has a wonderful fresh and contemporary vibe- the vocal draws in some elements of Ellie Goulding and her peers; that warm and bird-like beauty shines. With a clear and concise delivery, the words speak of redemptiveness and uplift- our heroine is effusive and elliptical throughout. Looking at ambitions (and not limiting your mind), the song urges the listener to look inside themselves and unleash their potential- let their colours come out onto the canvas. Employing metaphors and literal scenes, the song is a gripping and layered example from a brilliant young talent- someone who has huge mainstream potential. Street Art is the sort of song that could be on rotation at Radio One and Two– in addition to some of the underground and specialised radio stations. Drawing in her Beatbox majesty and distinctions, it is a full-bodied assault on the senses- you are caught up in the light and charm that comes out. It is a confident cut from our heroine- something that develops from her earlier days. Before Street Art, McKeon had built her name and performed with a range of artists- there was little chance to see her fully-rounded personality come out on its own. With the single giving the public a glimpse of the Maltese star, it shows a great leap forward. Few acts are that vibrant and confident out of the blocks- most go in with cover versions and restrained performances. McKeon showcases instant authority and direction- she has cemented a sound that blends sights of the mainstream with underground Beatbox swathes- the fusion gives the music such a distinct and incomparable edge. The rest of Street Art (the E.P.) will see this developed and built- the tracks will augment this pride and passion. The future is likely to see McKeon’s multi talents emphasised and experimented with. Being such a vocal force, she has unlimited potential- she can bend her voice and make it sound natural in any setting. Just as home in Jazz and Soul and Pop and Electro., she has so much room for maneuver. This will lead to a very exciting and tantalising future- if she does put out an album, who knows what will come forth? Few artists have so much potential and promise: McKeon is an act that will be making music for years to come; making sure her sounds reach as many people as possible. The early signs are encouraging and prosperous- off of the back of a few recordings, so many people are lining up to pay tribute to her. With growing social media numbers, we clearly have a star in our midst- make sure you get in on the ground level.

When thinking about other artists- that inspire McKeon- I am faced with a difficult task. Most acts usually have some obvious influences; our heroine is so distinct, that there are few that I can point to. When her voice instills Pop beauty and soulful passion, I catch hints of Ellie Goulding. When reviewing Nina Schofield- last time out- I caught glimmers of Goulding in her music. McKeon has that same arresting beauty and urgency (Goulding possesses). When thinking about the best comparison, one should look at Halcyon– Goulding’s most recent example. On that album, she showed her epic, luxurious and insistent voice- it made all of the tracks compelling and nuanced. The album looks at a variety of topics and ruminations- from young love through to uplifting the soul; it is a deep and rounded album. Appealing to young listeners and older alike, it hit hard with the critics. McKeon has a similar talent and gift. Her voice has that richness and huge impressiveness; she presents myriad themes and scenes- aims to welcome as many people in as she can. Able to move and shift sounds and genres- within the space of a verse in some cases- she showcases a similar mobility and innovation. Big choruses and huge hooks add weight and measure to her voice- the well-crafted and perfected songs show such detail and colour. Goulding’s voice has emphatic sweetness and tenderness- she is as authoritative when introverting as she is bellowing and rallying against the world. The vocal- from Goulding- warbles and strings itself out; original and striking, it really stands out in your thoughts. McKeon incorporates a measure of Goulding’s sounds and style; tying it around her own unique and tailored pipes- seamlessly and deftly drawing in melodicism and vibrancy. With McKeon’s voice being high in the mix; the compositional elements consist of cut-up fragments and samples- you can a bit of Halcyon offer itself up. The same way Goulding experimented with sounds and genres; manipulated her voice to elicit the greatest effect- that is what impressed reviewers most. Gargantuan synth. stylings and long-form anthems were contained within Halcyon- McKeon compresses this potency into Street Art. Pulsating buoyancy, crisp beats and enigma makes Goulding such a huge prospect- to my mind, McKeon is even more mesmeric. Before I highlight a few other influences- and relevant names to Dana herself- a couple of Hip/Trip-Hop names come to my thoughts. Portishead and Massive Attack are two legends of the ’90s Trip-Hop/Dance scene. Portishead are mentioned because of their experimentation and stylisations. Their self-titled album is dark and dangerous; deep and trippy; it is a collection of songs that demand your attention. The dreamlike qualities the band infuse in the album emphasise all of the numbers- transcend them beyond the ordinary. Beth Gibbons’s emotive and Siren voice floats in the mix and haunts the listener- beautifully working with the captivating backing. McKeon instills plenty of drama, atmosphere and fascination into her music. Perhaps not as disturbed and dark as Portishead– or Dummy for that matter- but it does match the band’s sense of ambition and assuredeness. McKeon mixes sounds and samples- often created by her own voice- to whip up a heady and psychotropic atmosphere- with her gorgeous and rainbow voice, our heroine perfectly blends darker and more intense undertones with sweeter highs. When thinking about Massive Attack, their Mezzanine album strikes my thoughts. If you look at songs like Inertia Creeps, the range of effects, sounds and eerie atmospherics make it a standout cut- I can apply these considerations to McKeon. When hearing our heroine Beatbox and enthrall crowds, her voice elicits electronic instruments; takes in Hip and Trip-Hop elements; fuses dark and seedy undertones with electronic light- she is a Massive Attack album all in one! That earthy and ethereal blend- on Mezzanine- is pulled off due to some hugely talented performers. McKeon is as gifted as all the performers on that album; her ear and eye for texture and rhythm is expert and assured- few other artists have such an ability to melt so many different sounds and styles into a single song. Two female singers- that came to mind- are Nelly Furtado and Lana Del Rey. Furtado’s debut album Whoa, Nelly! was a staggering and incredible debut release. The music on the album is multicultural and relentlessly upbeat- heartfelt and hopeful, it is designed to put the listener is a better mood. Furtado’s restless vocalisations see her scat and rap; she rapidly repeats and bends notes- melismas come out when the moment calls for it. McKeon reminds me of the audacious songwriter (in Furtado). On Whoa, Nelly! you hear notes bent and contorted; she is bare-naked and honest- laying her emotions out it is a frank and soul-bleeding album. McKeon is a like-minded and nurtured act: she does not have the same over-eagerness and naivety (as Furtado)- possessing more confidence and concision. McKeon’s curriculum pull together exotic hybrids and cosmopolitan sounds- together with the vibes and beats of the street. That rare fusion is what sets the starlet aside (from her peers); Furtado’s huge worldwide grasp made her album such a varied and jam-packed thing- one that housed multiple genres. Juxtaposing surreal sounds, Furtado instantly marked herself out; some found it quirky and endearing, others took time to wrap their heads around things- McKeon is likely to strike a chord much more instantly. Another female singer- a bit more modern and relevant- is Lana Del Rey. If you look at Del Rey’s Born to Die album (released in 2012); the magnificent melodies and superbly-crafted Pop songs were made for radio- few tracks pushed the listener away. Whilst Del Rey is more laconic and somnambulistic, McKeon elicits her own ethereal beauty with power and grace. Del Rey- criticised for being a “pneumatic marionette“- was able to haunt and seduce; her songs dug deep into the soul and caused huge results. McKeon is a most more assured and confident artist; she is ready to play and means serious business- the slightest hint of Del Rey is incorporated. When McKeon’s sweetness and spectral sides come out, you can detect embers of Del Rey- the similar sense of passion and serenity comes out. A trio of artists- that have meant a lot to our heroine- are James Brown, Bobby McFerrin and Tracy Chapman. Encapsulating a wealth of soulfulness and powerful prowess, the distinct singers have inspired a lot of McKeon’s current movements. If you listen to James Brown albums like In the Jungle Groove; that disc it is profoundly funky and upbeat- one of the finest albums from the Godfather of Soul. An exceptional and unparalleled band leader, Brown showed his chops as a sonic innovator and rhythmic guider. The way he bends notes, introduces tics and effects; powers through lines and verses is exhilarating and exhausting. Inspiring millions of Hip-Hop followers, the album transcended boundaries and barriers- spoke to a whole new generation. I can hear Brown in McKeon- when hearing her live testaments, that same irresistible and unquenchable power and control is evident. The dance workout and unstoppable grooves stand up to the test of time- Brown is an artist that has inspires legions of new artists. McKeon has that flair, drive and panache- when she is solo, she commands presence and grips the audience; a natural-born leader, you know how much music means to her. Bobby McFerrin’s legendary reputation for vocal acrobatics can be applied to McKeon. McFerrin could switch from bass notes to falsetto- virtuoso displays that made his music so distinct. Listen to albums like The Voice and you see this come out with force- one of the finest vocal albums of all-time. McKeon has a huge talent for octave-jumping and transformations- her Beatbox work is a paragon of experimentation and expectation-defiance. Tracy Chapman is an artist that must have inspired- our heroine’s- young mind. The emotional resonance that comes out- on Chapman’s self-titled album- mixed with modern and relevant scenes (compiled around classic production values). Chapman displayed activism and gutsy performances; keenly observed writing make the songs timeless and genre-defying. The beautiful Folk and Pop meltings can be heard on McKeon’s latest cut. Our heroine’s ability to pen modern-day gems and slice-of-life codas find their lineage in the work of Chapman- completed by astonishing vocal conviction and you have an artist that could be a modern-day comparable. All of these examples give you some background and reference- McKeon is so distinct that you will struggle to hear anyone else come out in her voice. The way she commingles vocalised beats and Pop lyricism aside one another is an endeavour few attempt- she should provide guidance for up-and-coming stars.

All of this brings us to the key coal point: Street Art. The song has been gathering a great deal of praise and fervency; its video has impressed YouTube viewers with its original storyline and incredible scenes- its reverse-graffiti tableau is not often covered. A yearning and aching electronic yawn brings the track into life. Accompanied by McKeon’s powerful and Beatbox percussion, the vocal divinity starts to come into effect- it is a stunning open to the song; it does not go in with too much force; plenty of intrigue and curiosity is elicited. Soul-inspired serenity makes the sonic elements seep into your consciousness; you are relaxed and calmed by the swaying smoothness (of the electronics); arrested and stood up by the firecracker beats. Our heroine steps to the microphone, with an enlivened and gorgeous vocal. With a smattering of Ellie Goulding’s choral beauty, it is a sharp and stunning sound- imbued with passion, force and urgency. McKeon speaks to her friends; a subject is being addressed as she implores “Tip-toe, stay low“- the cops are near-by; if (her subject) gets caught then they are going to go to jail. Given the song’s title and street scenes, one instantly feels that graffiti has been crated- mistaking it for vandalism, you can hear the echo of the sirens forthcoming. If the song’s focal point is locked away, they will never get to see the day when they can realise their ambitions- everything will be squandered and wasted. The vocal projection means the words trip and flow; the gorgeous and effective delineation gives the early moments a terrific flow and consistent energy. Propelled and supported by insistent and punchy beats, the track grows in meaning and stature- with every new word, you are given a new piece of the puzzle. The hero will lose; ruin things because they “can’t let go.” Early impressions revolve around that song title. Our hero is painting the city with tags and unique designs; choosing to project their art on concrete walls- it is going to see them taken off of the streets and behind bars. Capable of so much more- by embracing the street and respecting it- they have the chance for freedom and development- scenes and thoughts of love are tempted in. Whether literally referring to graffiti (or the colourful and lasting impressions of heartache), McKeon cleverly keeps the full truth bridled and enclosed. One part of you looks at graffiti murals and boys running from the police; the other sees someone heartbroken and bereft. Defining the limits of his mind, the hero is encouraged to let their personality shine- go out onto the streets and project the colours of his soul. Advising not to “sleep at night” more tantilisation and intrigue is proffered forth- some ambiguity teases the creative mind. Whether encouraging the song’s hero to go out and literally paint- or as a metaphor for embracing the people and sounds of the city- you are left to imagine. That drive towards dream-fulfillment and ambitions comes through blindingly: our heroine’s voice is filled with so much passion and drive you cannot ignore the potency of the words. With a great melodic sound, an upbeat and rousing chorus, it is not long until the song starts to become infectious and irresistible. At night, there is no time for sleep- there is so much quiet and solitude; the chance is there to work. Such a black-and-white city- you wonder if London is being referred to- there is incentive to make it sparkle. Picking up the palette of colours, the hero- or heroine: my apologies- is pushed to go forth and be overcome. The green lights provide inspiration and spikes the mind- the way the lines are delivered make them sound elementary and completely essential. Some thoughts are syncopated in a flow; others stuttered and carefully deployed- that range of considerations makes the track fresh and unpredictable. The city is a canvas that is waiting for something fresh and daring- someone to come along and liven it up. Every boring shade and concrete pertinence has the potential to be transmogrified and reborn- the sheer delight and passion McKeon gives to her lyrics makes you wonder if she is referring to herself. That hunger and soulful passion mingles Goulding-esque delivery with something much more unique- when the pulsating rhythmic beats are uttered; it can be nobody else but Dana McKeon. Colours focus highly on the song’s lyric rostra: the heroine uses them as metaphors and jumping-off points- the hero is ‘blue’ inside and has a chance to change that. The unique and spellbinding mixture of shades makes the song sound so different and refreshing- you are as captured by the different colours as you are the scenes unfolding. The hero has so much ambition and inner longing, that repression is threatening to explode. Dreams and talent should not be denied; a person’s true self should not be denied- McKeon is providing social commentary and relevance; the likes of which Tracy Chapman would be proud. When the chorus swings back around, the meanings and truths start to come through with clarity. Wrapped up in the addictive and insatiable appetite of the vocal, you start to sense that things will change- the song’s focus will rebel and paint the city with colours. It is terrific how the mind stays split and open: to a degree I was thinking that love is being assessed; someone has been heartbroken and being advised to go out there and not give up. Taken literally, the song could refer equally to art as music itself- with the big cities lacking necessary bite and vitality; the opportunity is there for the most talented and original to make their mark. Refreshingly ambitious and fresh, the song is mesmeric enough to draw in multitudes of fans- it is not just reserved for the younger Pop-orientated minds. Juxtaposing my earliest impressions, our heroine decries the lack of tolerance and acceptance- the graffiti is “fleeting.” Being eradicated and discouraged, it was providing true meaning and purpose; the subjugation and repression is leading to anxiety and heartache. With the likes of London distinctly grey and samey- beautiful but not bright- there is ample room for some multifarious inputs; eye-catching deigns would lend an original and much-needed flavour to the skylines. The original sinner is the vigilante of London- the one who roams at night seeking fresh canvases. Musical and personal ambitions are encouraged: on a level you sense that the song may have a lot of personal relevance; McKeon is representing herself to a small degree. With so much narrowly-defined and constricted musicians out there, her potent and startling voice is the spark of light needed- the antidote to the miasma of the mainstream. Enraptured in the charm and swirl of the composition- it packs in a myriad of notes and injections- the vocal rides highest. Sweet and passionate; inflamed and climbing, it is a magnificent performance. While the final moments approach, you get another taste of that Beatbox rawness- a perfect conclusion to a tale that has its heart on the city streets. You wonder whether a satisfactory resolution was arrived at; if the hero managed to overcome forces and add colour to the night. Such is the curiosity and fascination presented, you are left speculating and theorising- I would like to think that thinks worked out for the best. It is that deliriously beautiful and elliptical vocal that makes the song such a treat for the ears- the way the lines are delivered takes your breath away. With enough urgency and quality to sit alongside this year’s most addictive songs, Street Art is a track that has no limits- you will be listening to it when you need inspiration and necessary boost. Spirited, defiant and uplifting, it is what the music world needs right now.

With music lacking necessary economy and prosperity, it is terrific to see what new music is promoting- the likes of Dana McKeon are going to be names of the future. Having been intoxicated and mesmerised by her Beatbox work- that utterly disengaging and overwhelming sound- I could not wait to investigate Street Art. If the rest of the E.P. has the same flair and memorability- as the title cut- then it will represent one of the most potent opening moves of any new artist. Being Maltese and a proponent of Beatbox-Pop, McKeon already stands out- how many others do you know that promise this same diversity and combination? With heart-melting looks and a voice that could stop traffic, it seems our heroine should be formulating plans- I hope a lot more music is in her mind. Street Art is a song that makes you smile- simple as that. With impassioned and insatiable vocals; a huge and all-encompassing melody- you get a track that hits you instantly. Revealing treats and hidden treasures upon future listens, the track is a studded and glistening number- something that has put me in a much better mood. Before I get down to specifics- highlighting particular standout elements- I will wrap up the song evaluation. The lyrics have a unique and ever-relevant voice- looking towards desires and dream fulfillment; they are strange in their redemptiveness. Few artists project something inspiring and positive- it makes McKeon a fresh and unexpected treat. Tight and focused, Street Art covers a huge amount of ground; unveils a lot of story and development- keeps you gripped from beginning to end. Backed and bolstered by a huge and life-affirming chorus, it is going to be a track that will set many dancefloors alive. Like Nina Schofield, Dana McKeon has an authority when it comes to Pop and melody- able to summon up a magisterial amount of energy and joy, it is great to see these innovators come through. Few tracks possess so much heart, soul, grit and passion- the key components for every great song. It will be interesting to see what else Street Art offers up- whether the remaining tracks are packed with the same sparks and fascinations. Kudos must go to McKeon herself: a clear star with a big future, her endless authority and conviction defines the song. Elevating it to rarefied heights, that insatiable and gorgeous voice gives the song smile, charm and kick- when her vocals portray beats and Beatbox, she is equally potent. A skilled and intelligent songwriter, there is nothing juvenile and inexperienced being offered- Street Art is a song that is instilled with maturity and a terrific amount of skill. Able to unify genres like Pop, Trip-Hop and Urban; our heroine is a daring and mesmeric talent. These are the very early days; the moments where personality and ambition are starting to build- the ensuing years will see just how much potential and longevity McKeon has. Judging her first solo effort, things seem to be very rosy indeed- it is clear the Maltese star has an unending passion for what she does. I wonder whether the audiences and crowds compel and inspire her- if the creative output is the reciprocity from the enraptured reception (she receives). Let us hope that our heroine does not relent touring; brings her music to the masses- I for one need to catch her in her natural environment. Having obtained just a few sides to McKeon, her E.P. will expand her promise and sound- the public will get the chance to witness something quite compelling and spectacular. I hope that the likes of McKeon inspire new songwriters to do things in a similar way: break away from predictable avenues and do something different with music. When you open your imagination and infuse originality, the results are quite stunning.

Hopefully I have provided a good overview of Dana McKeon- as well as Street Art. Her name and profile is starting to gain some serious momentum- the amount of supporters she is gaining shows you just how hard her music is resonating. Already a big name in her native Malta, McKeon has played all around Europe- performing to various-sized crowds, she has been very busy indeed. Over the coming months, our heroine will be playing throughout the U.K.- including a host of gigs around London. The capital is providing some of the world’s most distinct and exciting urban and street acts- artists that take Rap, Hip-Hop and R ‘n’ B- providing a new spin and sense of adventure. With so few Beatbox artists around- fewer that mix in Pop, Folk and Soul into it- we need to embrace and promote acts like McKeon. Her talent and authority is hard to deny; there are few artists that sound so confident and assured. Mixing in lyrics that make you think and assess situations; topics that delve deep and take their soul into myriad avenues- Street Art is a thought-provoking and gripping song. The perfect introduction to a wonderful E.P., we are being given a chance to witness one of the nation’s best young talents showcase her work- the next few years are going to be exciting and prosperous. I am not sure where McKeon will head from here. Having a huge draw in Malta and around Europe, it is clear she will be touring and gigging internationally- who knows what markets will come calling. Having a contemporary flair and multitudinous sound, I would not be shocked to see her transcend to the U.S.- there are plenty of venues and stations that would eat her music up. For that matter, large parts of Australia and South America would welcome her in- the potential she has is immense. Perhaps wanting to keep her feet planted (for now), McKeon is watching the effect Street Art has on people- its striking and unforgettable video scores a song that is as insistent and memorable as any I have heard in a long while. One of the best things about my reviewing role is being exposed to genres and forms of music I would not usually seek out- highlighting sounds that are not widely played and pervaded. That mix of multiple instruments; stunning vocal projection and spellbinding technique makes all of McKeon’s output sound elementary and absolutely vital. Being so close to London, I have no excuse for missing out on the live experience- seeing our heroine in the flesh and seducing crowds. Make sure you investigate Street Art in its full glory; snap up the E.P. too- keep Dana McKeon at the top of your thoughts. Before I go, I want to focus again on Beatbox and the genre- a style of music that we need to hear more of. It may not be to everybody’s taste, but that is not to say we should ignore its impact- too many people turn their noses up without giving it a chance. Assuming it is going to be uninspired and jarring, they tend to bridle and pull away. In order to broaden your mind and welcome in something new, you have to be brave and bold- take a chance on music and give it a fair shout. After investigating Street Art, I have been inspired to check out similar acts and sounds- delve deep into the history of the form. McKeon infuses elements of Pop and Soul; beauty and passion sit alongside insistent and vibrant beats- all backed by her inspiring and incredible voice. With a multifaceted ability (few others possess), she is going to have a huge future. Collaborating with other artists means that an album may be in her thoughts- she has enough drive and potential to turn in an incredibly striking and varied L.P. Again, I shall not get ahead of myself- instead just let you focus on the here and now. For those that bury your heads in confined and samey sounds; are nervous about embracing something unexpected and unfamiliar- do not let your mind shrink and contract. One listen of Street Art and you are hooked in; our heroine wants to embrace and welcome as many listeners as possible. An artist that is so warm and open should not be left to chance and serendipity; she is making some huge impressions right now- make sure you do not let Dana McKeon get away…

EMBRACE her instead.


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